LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As Southern Nevada's hospital bed occupancy swells to 87 percent, one nurse on the frontlines explains the emotional toll on nurses, patients and their loved ones.
Las Vegas nurse Celia Nieto, member of National Nurses United, explains how her unit has many COVID-19 patients, and as the pandemic rages on, she's fighting harder to save even more lives.
"I've cheer leaded for someone and have been certain they've turned the corner. Then they can't breathe, and then they need full support on the ventilator again. It's so sad and so disheartening when I have to experience that, and call their family members," Nieto said.
"Their families cannot come see them. So our patients are scared, they're alone. Their family members are scared and alone," she said, typically holding up a phone or device to help loved ones communicate virtually.
"Nobody understands it...we're doing the best we can," she said, stating she's said goodbye to "countless" patients.
Nevada has seen 177,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,395 deaths.
Nieto said the figures do not show the number of people facing long-term health issues during recovery.
Nieto said many nurses are facing depression, anxiety and grief, and has been an advocate for self-care and therapy.
The nurse on the frontlines said she's seeing loved ones of patients make decisions that put people at risk-- then in the hospital.
"I'm taking care of the people who have had a small party, just a small get together-- and now mom and dad who are 70 are in the hospital and on life support," she said. "I feel like people are forgetting this healthcare system component: to slow the spread," she said.
Nieto encourages Nevadans to avoid gathering in homes or making unnecessary visits, and would rather people make wise decisions than see another shutdown.