As we go about living our lives in this time of the Pandemic of Covid-19 each of us are impacted quite differently depending on what we do for a living and where we are demographically. I will share my experience here in Denver, Colorado and would love to hear from you what is happening in your area and how you are impacted. I’m a neonatal nurse. I care for premature and ill babies. We have instituted very strict visiting restrictions, are having trouble with our supplies as many of them come from China. We are reusing things and rationing gowns and masks. We have very few pump parts left as they come from China. Human breast-milk is like medicine for our babies and having our moms pump right away has always been the gold standard in providing their babies with lifesaving nutrition. Formula can introduce dangerous bacteria and can lead to intestinal infections for the littlest ones. We are going to have to go hand expression for breast-milk if things continue this way. I am at the same time enrolled in an online RN-BSN degree after 22 years as a nurse. I am grandfathered in in my hospital, but if I ever want to move I will need a Bachelors degree to practice. Oddly, the course I am taking is public health and my paper I am writing is on the spread of communicable disease or Epidemiology. My topic is Covid-19. So in the next few days I will learn even more than I know now about this new virus. The school that I go to, WGU, has quite a presence across the US for nurses like me as it is well prepared, accredited, and pretty cheap. So I find myself connected with RNs all over the US on my WGU facebook group. It has turned into an information sharing platform over the last couple of days. Therefore, I have my finger on the pulse of almost every region of the US as we are telling each other what is happening in our individual hospitals. Seattle is in a dire situation. The nurses there are talking about running out of beds and supplies, exhaustion, lack of personal protective equipment. Massachusetts is nearly as bad. The rest of the nurses are gearing up and seeing more cases, limiting visitation and preparing. Most of us have gotten a rapid education in Covid-19. Initially, many of us, including myself, were skeptical and thought it was nothing more than the flu. Now, I know it is different, it is a real public threat. The hospitalization rate is roughly 20%. If enough people get it this would overwhelm our hospitals. We don’t have a whole lot of ICU beds in the US. A great portion of these patients would need ventilators. We simply wouldn’t have enough. We are a lean, mean hospital machine in the US. We run tight, not just with staff but with everything. We get them in and get them out. We are not set up for a mass influx. We would have to start triaging who gets treatment and who doesn’t. None of us want to even think about the ethical implications of that. Suddenly, I find myself pretty outspoken to those who think social distancing, the closing of our schools, public places and restaurants is “overblown, an overreaction”. I am posting things on Facebook and commenting on newspaper articles (a first). I told a guy in an automotive shop today, when he was complaining about the job losses that will happen and the economic fallout, that we simply cannot handle this if people don’t listen to the CDC. I feel sorry for the coming economic pain, for the restaurants, for the small businesses, for the hourly workers who will have to stay home. I think my family will be affected as well. We run an AIRBNB that has dried up, my husband is a pastor and expects to take a pay-cut. I have a daughter in college that is driving home and now doing online classes. She still has a rental house that we’ve been paying for in Salem, Oregon. I told her I’m not sure how we are going to pay for things in the near future. But people’s lives matter more. They just do. That’s why I got into healthcare in the first place. I believe and have hope that others feel the same as I do and will sacrifice money, comfort, socialization and put up with some level of hardship for the protection of the vulnerable in our communities.
*Charleston, SC October 2019*