by Aliscia Phillips, staff writer
With the spread of coronavirus, front line workers and first responders continue to risk their lives to help those in need. One registered nurse takes on the hardships of a pandemic head-on. This nurse, who has requested to remain anonymous, works primarily with digestive disease but, because of her line of work, has been in contact with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
She explains that her field has primarily been impacted by the personal protective equipment shortages. Masks and cleaning supplies are kept locked up and strict policies have been put into place to avoid running out of essential equipment. Employees that require them are allowed one N95 mask per day. When not in use, the masks are draped over brown paper bags with handles despite being labeled single-use.
“No one understood the full scope of things,” she said.
Society as a whole was not prepared for this pandemic as shown by the PPE shortage, but our nurse admits that not even she expected the magnitude of its effect on the country. She explains that Ohio was lucky; it was able to control the spread quickly with the stay-at-home order.
Many of the nurses she works with are still fearful of getting the virus. She describes how her coworkers send their children to other families to avoid potentially spreading the pathogen to them.
“Earlier this week I had taken care of three COVID-positive patients and I walked through the door and my daughter just wanted to hug me and I had to be like ‘Get away.’”
The strain put on front line workers’ relationships is a hard one to bear. The virus also makes for long, stressful days in uncomfortable conditions. The masks hospital staff wear are tight, often causing headaches and bruising. She says the one thing she misses the most, however, is the hands-on care for patients. Everyone has to be much more careful to avoid harming patients so maintaining distance is a necessary sacrifice.
The long-term effects of the pandemic will hopefully show growth within the healthcare industry and the way it’s managed. Our nurse explains that she sees hospitals being run by different people. She believes that because hospitals are run by administrators who lack patient contact, there is a general disconnect that could have even contributed to the PPE shortage because they don’t see what’s going on at ground zero. She also thinks that virtual visits may become more popular even after the pandemic because they are convenient and avoid bringing patients into areas with a high risk of contamination.
Life in quarantine may be rough, but the future always brings the possibility of change and a positive outlook. This pandemic is yet another opportunity for society to hopefully learn and improve upon itself.
Note: It is usually The Hive’s policy to not publish anonymous interviews, but we are honoring the request of this front-line worker to remain anonymous because she is afraid of possible repercussions from her employer.