We’re living in some stressful times.
This week, our country entered into a new phase of existence as we navigate widespread school and business closures. As of March 18th, over 227,000 people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19 and over 9,300 deaths have been documented, and those numbers are growing. The coronavirus pandemic is currently dictating so many of our choices, and countless numbers of people are being physically, mentally, and financially affected by this global emergency.
It’s understandable to feel panicked by the overwhelming statistics, lack of resources, and governmental mishandling being publicized all over the media. So many of us are desperately trying to navigate a situation we feel totally unprepared for, and none of this is easy. But now more than ever, it’s imperative that we come together as a country and give some major gratitude to the doctors, nurses, first responders, and other medical professionals who are quite literally putting their lives at risk to ensure our own.
Last Wednesday, nurses across the country organized a national day of action to protest the CDC’s weakened measures of containing COVID-19 in hospitals. Of all the logistical changes, among the most disastrous were the rollbacks on requirements for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients to be placed in full-time isolation rooms, along with the decrease in protections for health care workers who are exposing themselves to the virus as they collect diagnostic respiratory specimens.
“If nurses and health care workers aren’t protected, that means patients and the public are not protected,” said National Nurses United executive director Bonnie Castillo in a press release on NNU’s website. “This is a major public health crisis of unknown proportions. Now is not the time to be weakening our standards and protections or cutting corners. Now is the time we should be stepping up our efforts.”
NNU also conducts an ongoing survey of registered nurses nationwide to get a scope of whether or not medical facilities have been able to handle the rapid onslaught of patients affected by COVID-19. As of March 3rd, only 29% had reported that their hospital has a plan in place to isolate a coronavirus patient, and 70% said that their employer does not have enough personal protective equipment to handle the growing surge of COVID-19 cases.
In other words, healthcare workers bravely stood up last week against a leading national public health organization that did not have their wellbeing, or the wellbeing of their patients, in mind.
At a critical moment when nurses, doctors, first responders, and other medical professionals have been scrambling together to help the greater good, they were also taking precious time and energy away from those efforts to advocate for a basic level of protection they so deserve. The extraordinary healthcare workers who are exhausting themselves in our country today care deeply about the people they are working tirelessly to save, and it is not lost on those they positively impact.
On behalf of every single parent, child, elder, and any other human being who is being treated for or affected by COVID-19, I want to thank all of you who are rising up to meet the grave circumstances at hand. I can only assume that you are all beyond exhausted, battling so many understandable fears, and facing the heartbreaking scenario of leaving your own families to make the trek to the hospital you work at each day. We already know how much you each give to your job under average circumstances, and we are blown away by your strength, courage, and generosity at this life-threatening time.
As restrictions continue to increase and self-quarantine becomes our national reality, we need to remember the reason we are going to great lengths to keep this virus from spreading. Our hospitals are not infinitely stocked with equipment and manpower, and those who fill the halls as patients and staff are human beings just like the rest of us. Sure, it’s all well and good to religiously wash our hands, disinfect our surfaces, and distance our social interactions. But recognizing the tremendous reason why we are taking these precautions will help us pull together and think beyond ourselves.
While many of us are currently toughing it out in the comfort of our homes, there are people out there who don’t have access to safe shelter and may need a hospital bed due to being at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. There are people who will benefit from us not passing them on the street as they make their way to work at the medical facility that needs to stay open and functioning. Limiting our interactions may seem naturally isolating, but it is also a huge act of appreciation and kindness for those who don’t have the luxury to stay at home right now.
If you are one of the folks who walk through hospital doors or respond to emergency calls today, bravely navigating the chaos of this pandemic, please know that we consider you a hero. You have given the rest of us a reason to cultivate hope, because we see your unwavering dedication in the face of such uncertainty. You are on the front lines of a public health battle we’ve never seen before in modern history, and we are eternally grateful for your service to our country. Thank you for being there for each and every one of us.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.