Area Medical Professionals Keeping Prepared
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
By Valerie Waddle
The last four weeks have brought unprecedented changes to our world. Around the globe, our daily routines are being disrupted. For many, those of us who are “non-essential”, this means spending more time with our families, cooking more meals at home, and helping our kids navigate online education. For those deemed “essential,” it looks very different. Area medical professionals have spent the last few weeks refining current protocols and procedures for improving patient care during the COVID-19 crisis. Most healthcare facilities have implemented mandatory screenings for all employees prior to allowing them to work. Surgical masks, and in some places even gowns, are donned by medical professionals and administrative staff alike. Surgical facilities are cancelling non-emergency procedures and clinics are requesting video and telephone visits in lieu of office visits. Imagine taking every precaution to keep your family healthy, self-quarantining, practicing social distancing, washing your hands for 20 seconds 20 times a day, only to be responsible for the care of a stranger who may or may not have done the same. Nurses are on the front lines of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Working more shifts and longer hours than ever before. Being briefed daily on recommendations from the CDC and the World Health Organization for what is believed to be the best practice at the time. Global shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have changed the way nurses move from one patient to the next, while still doing everything they can to keep their patients, and themselves, safe from cross contamination.
One area nurse stated “We’ve always have had the resources to get our jobs done without risk to anyone. Now we are risking ourselves, our families, just to do our jobs. Any job has to have the tools to get a job done. Imagine a job without the tools it needs daily, can it be done? Maybe, but not safely. That’s where we are at.”
When asked about the changes in the field, another area nurse stated “the current culture of healthcare has gone from being basically boutique, to emergent only. Each day we have to review the scheduled patients and decide which patients are acute and have to be seen. Those considered high risk such as elderly or immunosuppressed are always asked to stay home. Non-acute patients’ appointments are moved out past the projected date of the pandemic resolution.”
Another big change, leaving work. Both nurses interviewed described similar precautions they take to avoid contamination of their homes/families. In addition to practicing social distancing when not at work, other precautions include undressing at the door and washing work attire immediately. More conscientious use of hand sanitizer and daily use of disinfectant wipes on car handles, steering wheels, and doorknobs is also now part of everyday life. Finally, the realization that if needed, many healthcare professionals are prepared to quarantine themselves from their families, in order to continue to provide care for our community. Nurses, in all capacities, are an essential provider in everyday life. They serve every population imaginable and do so with grace. Whether they are checking your vitals at an annual well check, or ushering a loved one into their next life, nurses spend their days caring for others.
Often times, a nurse and patient have barely met or only see one another a few times a year. Yet if you ask them, a nurse will tell you that every patient deserves to be cared for as if they were family.
“Pray for healthcare workers, and all the essential workers. Listen to the CDC guidelines. And please, please be honest with your Healthcare providers, if you are not feeling well call first. We are a strong community; we always have been. We all do our parts, we will get through.”