Are we allowed to say it? Does it make us look weak? Ungrateful? Judgmental? Overreacting?
I am nervous.
If you’re a nurse (or CNA), you were probably “called” to nursing. You didn’t choose the job, the job chose you. You have a strong passion and desire to take care of the most vulnerable population and make a difference in each of their lives. You get high off of the feeling of being a huge part of their healing process, and if it goes the other way, you feel every bit of that, too.
Being in the medical field, you don’t get to choose what patients you want and don’t want to take care of. You don’t get to refuse a patient assignment because they have a communicable disease, and you don’t get to refuse a patient because they are “needy.” As a medical professional, you show up to work expecting to have the appropriate PPE equipment to protect your patient, YOURSELF, and your community as you’re walking out the doors and back home to your families.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO officially announced the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 as a national pandemic.
To be completely real, those words didn’t really resonate with me. I wasn’t quite sure what that would mean for me other than sports being put on hold for a little bit. I wasn’t educated on COVID-19, and nobody was really talking about it right then. I remember thinking, “All of this? Is there something more serious that we aren’t being told?”
Never did I expect what was to come.
March 12th 2020, the sports world stopped. Every single active sporting event was cancelled, and it was that day that I knew I better get my education up to speed because my life as a nurse of immunocompromised patients was about to change.
I don’t think I need to go over what happened in the next few weeks from the sports world stopping, but I do need to educate and advocate because I am getting extremely frustrated with people who are not abiding by the social distancing and quarantining policies.
If you are not social distancing and staying home, you are playing with fire. And not a small bonfire. You are walking out into the woods, along with everyone else who isn’t social distancing, and you’ve each brought your own small match. Now what can your small match do to an entire forest? Not much, right? Until you look up and see all of the other matches being lit, and before you know it, thousands of acres are on fire because you thought if you just were hanging out with healthy people, what could it hurt, right?
The only people you should be seeing right now are the people you cannot avoid, and even then, precautions should be the first thought in your mind. Think of COVID-19 as a baseball. You’re playing center field and COVID-19 is hit to you. You catch it, throw it back to the second basemen, and now two of you have it; but you both feel fine and were only exposed for as long as it took you to throw it back, so after the game, you go have a drink with a couple close friends. It can’t hurt because there’s less than 10 of you, abiding by the rules, right?
You just exposed 6 more people. And those people? They live with a doctor. And a nurse. And a grocery store employee. And a postal worker. They’re all still working because they are “essential workers” and are not allowed to stay home. Your “small circle” just exposed a whole lot of people.
Now let’s rewind. You don’t show up to that baseball game and you never catch the ball and throw it in. You know what happens? COVID-19 starts to die, because it has nowhere to latch on to. Because you and your friends are committed to staying home, COVID-19 has no hosts because it can’t live on its own. That is how we will start to #FlattenTheCurve.
When you keep getting together, even in very small groups, “you run the risk of giving the virus one more chance to persist in the population,” explained Kirsten Hokeness, professor and chair of the Department of Science and Technology at Bryant University and an expert in immunology, virology, microbiology, and human health and disease.
Now, picture this. You’re a medical worker. You signed up for this job many years ago because your passion is to take care of the sick. You come into work each day, not overthinking that you’ll catch any virus, disease, or bacteria, because you’ve always had proper equipment to keep you safe: gloves, masks, eye shields, gowns, etc. You’ve never been threatened with a shortage, never even thought that was possible.
There’s a national pandemic. You start reading that hospitals around the country are running out of masks and gloves. Not yours, right? That could never happen. You pull up an article written by the FDA telling you to REUSE gloves between patients in the event of a shortage. You watch a press conference of the President of the United States saying, “We have very good liquids for doing this. Why aren’t we sanitizing and reusing masks?” Your heart drops. You can’t wait to wake up and realize this is a terrible nightmare you’re living in. You can’t wait to realize that you’re not a medical worker running out of supplies. You can’t wait to open your eyes and begin your day working from home.
I don’t get to wake up from reading about shortages across the world. I don’t get to wake up from hoping and praying that this will not be my life when I walk into work each shift. I don’t get to wake up from pleading people to stay home so ERs and hospitals don’t get overcrowded to a point of not having appropriate PPE. I know my place of employment will do EVERYTHING in their power to protect their workers to the best of their ability. But if it gets out of their hands? This is my reality. This is my ER physician father’s reality. This is my bonus-mom ER ARNP’s reality. This is hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers across the world’s reality. This is our life.
If we do not have proper PPE to perform our jobs SAFELY, this nightmare will just be beginning.
We go to work for you, so STAY HOME for us.