COVID-19 diaries: Employment situations

Starting tomorrow my husband is working from home. I think he is the lucky few. I have to report to work because I work at a hospital. Though in the last few years there are articles that say things like “working from home is becoming the new normal” there are many jobs where people do not have a choice other than working at a site. Some might consider his situation a luxury.

Today I was going through my feed and a family friend posted how he just received a call from his manager that he got fired from his job. He worked at a large hotel chain. He is one of many people on my feed who shared they are out of work a month or two or indefinitely (err…fired).

My cousin is a flight attendant. She asked if I knew if anyone is hiring. She is looking for part-time work since she is getting many days off. It is hard to say if my job is hiring because human resources is not taking any live scan appointments — I doubt they are recruiting and placing new postings. I suggested her to look into working for the census. It is considered essential work.

Let me turn this post around. So good news….China has zero new cases. Their lockdown strategy was incredibly effective. Hopefully it turns around in California with the stay-at-home order.

Supporting small businesses during your corona-cation

Today at work, my supervisor brought in pastries from her friend’s shop. I asked her what was the occasion. The occasion was supporting her friend’s business especially since it has not been doing well due to the city-wide shut down. She reminded me that I need to go and continue to support my favorite businesses during this tough time. I know I mentioned earlier that we spend more days eating in than dining out (err…taking out), but it would be completely devastating if our favorite places went away.

The COVID-19 journal: Keeping your spirits up

Yesterday, there were currently 94 cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles. Today, there are currently 144. There are still no cases admitted to our hospital. The medical school pulled the students from doing their residency. I find it kind of weird because where else would they go? Gladly, these students are coming back on their own volition to volunteer their time at the hospital. Hearing that lifted my spirits.

Today at my department we did a team huddle about every one to two hours. It was like breaking news to discuss what temporary change has unfolded or perform a quick report within the next hour to send to the big boss. There was even a possibility of our department closing during the outbreak. I was not sure what it would entail. Would it mean we disperse to support other departments? Or does it mean we get furloughed without pay? The latter is something I cannot afford.

We host many events at the hospital inviting the community throughout the year, but they have all been cancelled or postponed. When things get cancelled and everything pulls you in every which direction, it can be hard to keep your spirits up.

How do you cope with dealing with COVID-19?

For me, I found at work, it helps to:

  • Keep a sense of humor
  • E-mail your coworkers a list of link of good news — everyone could use some good news.
  • Enjoy my drive from home to downtown LA. My average time is 30 minutes each way.
  • Since my drive is short, I can sleep in. I can have productive mornings exercising and pack my lunch.
  • I prefer to sit outside during my lunch breaks, but because it’s been raining for the last few days, I get cooped up in the cafeteria. I instead go back to the office to nap or read. Maybe I’ll try some office exercise.

At home:

  • Enjoy the sun. This morning the sun was out and there was no rain for a few hours. I finally took my dogs out for a walk.
  • Journaling my observations about how people behave around COVID-19. The hospital is fairly serene compared to going to the grocery store. On Saturday, I went to ALDI for a few groceries. When I arrived around 5 PM, they closed. The posted closing time is 9 PM but because they ran out of a lot of food, they closed early.

Things to do while I self-quarantine

We currently have 94 cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles County. This number is relatively small compared to King County, Washington at 488 cases and New York City at 463 cases. The United States currently has a total of 3,487 cases. If being called to action means staying at home sitting on the couch, we will do so to flatten the curve.

So effective yesterday, many Los Angeles businesses shut down. Bars are closed. Restaurants are take-out only. We can’t go out to the movies or go to gym. To me, out of all these things, not going to the gym is the hardest to let go. Not only I enjoy exercise, but the social interaction when I go to Pure Barre or walk my dogs around the park. I can do fine with just eating in for the next several days and not going to restaurants. I can spend evenings watching Netflix and Hulu instead of going to the movies.

What I also find hard is not going out to see my friends or family at their homes or invite them to mine. But we got to do what we have to do.

As of yesterday I only got out of the house to go grocery shopping, go to work, or walk my dogs — if the weather permits. The weather has been so awful the last several days. I think my dogs are starting to get bored.

To be honest, it has been a rough 48 hours of self-quarantine. A lot of my time involves planning for social events in the future, but those need to be put on hold. With this social distancing, I have to think of activities to help pass the time. So far I have the following:

  1. Follow workout videos. Gladly my gym will be uploading workout videos. I have to record a video of myself doing the exercise video and send it over to get it counted that I attended class. Since I spend a lot of time lounging and not reaching 10,000 steps, I do more workout videos through FitOn or Youtube. Yesterday, I did three. One was a 45-minute Pure Barre workout, 20 minute cardio exercise, and 15 minutes of yoga. It was spread all throughout the day.
  2. Clean and declutter
  3. Blogging. I am a forever journaler. I would not be surprised if I blogged everyday of this quarantine. It is a historical moment.
  4. Listen to podcast.
  5. Watch Netflix and other streaming services. I don’t think I’ll be the person who streams all days. I barely touch the app during the week and reserve it on the weekends.
  6. Read. If you’re bored, then go read a book. I am thankful for apps like Overdrive since the library is closed.
  7. If the weather is better, walk the dogs.
  8. Do our taxes. Ooops. Those things are due soon.
  9. Learn a foreign language.

I’m not 100% quarantined. I still go to work during the week — I work at a hospital after all. I know some people were forced to work from home. Some people may like the idea of working from home, but for me, I found it incredibly distracting when I had to work from home in my last job. I felt I ended up putting in more working hours at home than at the office.

How are you dealing with the self-quarantine or social distancing?

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