COVID-19 — my thoughts as a healthcare worker

I had this post in draft for some time. This past week has been a twist and turn in every direction at work now since COVID-19 went from epidemic to pandemic. I had to deal with many situations I did not predict. I am sure there is more to come.

Washing your hands

I love how people are preaching to everyone on the importance of washing their hands. Did you not wash your hands before the Coronavirus? I find your basic hygiene habits far more concerning. Next week, will I be taught shapes and the alphabet next week?

Then again, I’ve worked in healthcare for the past seven years — six of the those years were in senior care. In my previous job, there were times a senior living faculty had to go on lock down due to the flu, norovirus, or scabies. Anytime I entered a senior living facility, I always washed and gelled my hands with sanitizer. I work with seniors who do not have the most optimal health and I did not want to be carrier outside my workplace. During my time there, I did not recall an infection control protocol. It was not until I started my current job, I realized that hand-washing and infection control deserved its own tenet in healthcare.

Working in healthcare is not for the faint of heart

I come across a lot of people who aspire to work in the medical field. They come in with an expectation that that working in the hospital is a lot like Grey’s Anatomy. They get excited about trauma, bullet wounds, and horrific accidents. I came to realize they are excited because none of these things are happening to them, it’s happening to the other person. I’ve observed times where to them the patient is an exhibition. I frequently tell these people that the hospital is not a zoo, the patients are here to get better, they are not here for your entertainment.

Anyways, when things do get “exciting” like this pandemic, these healthcare aspirants run the other direction. At this point I question their ambition. Did you know you were coming into an environment exposing yourself to potentially infectious diseases? It is a hospital. There have been many infectious diseases before COVID-19 and there will be more after. There is glory, but you need to deal with the gritty stuff too. This real-life situation is the real test of fire, not your grades from your general education courses.

Please give the hospitals more credit

Our hospital has been on top of the COVID-19 situation since the end of January. We’ve been screening each patient and visitor for the coronavirus. We’ve screened staff members to see if they visited targeted countries in the last two weeks and determine if they are eligible of self-quarantined. For those who are planning to go to these target countries have the choice or they can continue to go on their trip. But if they chose the latter, they are not expected to come back to work for a certain period of time. And they’ll be unpaid.

Long before it rose to pandemic status, we’ve been pushing everyone to wash and their hands. We cancelled meeting with 50+ people. Several weeks ago the epidemiology department said we need elbow bump instead of shaking hands and hugging at work.

I like to think the panic is due to the poor handling by the current administration. They frame virus as something foreign as an excuse to blame foreigners by blocking travel between the U.S. and Europe and calling it a “Chinese virus.” They don’t believe in science. Compared to the the current administration, our hospital placing measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases is light years ahead.

Don’t expect to work from home

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