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9 Nurses on What You Can Do to Help During the Pandemic
As the global pandemic persists, what's being asked of most of us is to stay inside. Stay inside, wear a mask, limit your contact with anyone that isn't essential. And while some consider these tasks to be Herculean (or choose to shirk this responsibility being placed on them for the greater good), there's a core set of essential workers who must face the pandemic head-on, day in and day out: our frontline healthcare workers.
This year for International Nurses Day, which commemorates the birth of Florence Nightingale, the statistician who paved the way for nursing, we honor those workers and the sacrifices they make. Here, Out spotlights nine queer nurses working on the front line and ask them not only what keeps them going, but what we can do to help out.
Position: ICU Registered Nurse
Hospital: Westchester Medical Center
What keeps you going: Support from loved ones has proven to be incredibly helpful. From family cheering me on, to friends reaching out and sharing their support, any acts of encouragement have proven to make the work days more bearable.
How can others help? Sending those working on the frontlines encouragement and appreciation and offering support are all ways to help those working during the pandemic. Most importantly practice social distancing!
Position: Licensed Practical Nurse
Hospital: Lancaster Rehabilitation Hospital
What keeps you going? If I don't help provide care for these patients who would? That question is what gets me out of bed and gives me the courage to come to work daily. To know I'm making a difference in these patients lives is an encouragement that I'm in the right place at the right time! Do I think of the potential of carrying this Illness home to my family? Absolutely I do, there are many days I am afraid, but as I have taught and continue to teach my children , you cannot live your life in fear!
(Jasmine's partner Sophia McDonald is a Certified Nurse's Assistant.)
How can people who aren't nurses help out? Stay home! I cannot stress enough to anyone and everyone to just stay put! If you must go out wear a face mask... cover your mouth and your nose! It is useless to have your nose exposed, you still are posing a risk that isn't necessary.
Position: Emergency Room Registered Nurse
Hospital: Harborview Medical Center
What keeps you going? The support of my friends, family, coworkers, and community is what keeps me going during this pandemic. It's a difficult time to be in healthcare, but a strong support system propels me forward. I feel the encouragement every night at 8 p.m. when the communal cheers of Seattle come roaring through my open windows. It makes me proud to be on the frontline and gives me strength when I think I'm weak.
How can people who aren't nurses help out? The best way, in my opinion, how someone who isn't a nurse can help is by adhering to social distancing policies and letting people know you're there for them. This is a challenging era we live in, and more than ever we need to have each other's backs (from a distance). All of the changes are affecting each person a little differently. It's important to be patient with one another--be kind. You can never truly walk in someone else's shoes, but letting them know you care might just save their life. Until we have a vaccine for this, it will continue to be a big part of our lives. This is a learning opportunity. We will adapt, we will grow, and we will be stronger together.
Angel "Shae" Street
Position: Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery
Hospital: Lankenau Medical Center
What keeps you going? Each day I am motivated by the brave and wonderful women who are birthing during this unprecedented time. At such a vulnerable time in their life it is hard to be told that their loved ones and doulas aren't allowed to be with them. Each shift I try to be the support these moms need. I encourage them to tap into the strength that they don't even know they have. I take pride in being able to help them usher in their wonderful baby and creating new beautiful memories despite the in certainties with the pandemic.
How can non-nurses help? The constant encouragement from those who aren't nurses is refreshing. We appreciate all of the kind words, letters, pictures, and food...especially the food! Don't worry about contributing to the "quarantine 15." Just keep doing what you're doing. Being helpful in whatever way the nurse you know needs. Ask them daily and be willing to listen to our rants about how crazy it is to deal with the daily changes. Just be there for them...as someone they can lean on after letting others lean on them all day.
Position: Registered Nurse, Emergency Room
Hospital: Sibley Memorial Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine
What keeps you going during this pandemic? Patience. Humor. Sleep. Appreciating the small moments that remind me of why I became a nurse. Like giving a patient hope that they can and will get better -- because I've seen it happen. Or holding a dying patient's hand, who is alone and afraid, while I sing the Sister Act 2 version of "Oh Happy Day" to them. Relying on my amazing colleagues for emotional, mental, and physical support when it's too tough to handle.
How can people who aren't nurses help out? Send us food and fun stuff. Nurses love cupcakes and free shit. Send your local ER, nursing home, or VA hospital a few pizzas or a fruit basket or cashews. We don't care what it is. The other day we got a case of cell phone holders that protects your phone from heat/cold and I was so excited. If you know a nurse personally, offer to run an errand for them or drop off some groceries at their house. I'm literally so exhausted all the time that I don't feel like doing all the small stuff I need to do. Also, stay the fuck at home and wash your hands.
Mx. Clare Madrigal
Position: Registered Nurse
Hospital:LGBTQ Resource Nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC. andEmergency Nurse at Frederick Health Hospital, Frederick, MD.
What keeps you going? Marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by health disparities, and this pandemic is no different. I am motivated to keep going, to ensure my LGBTQ family, and communities of color are receiving inclusive, culturally competent care, especially now.
I do everything I can to remain protected at work, so that I can keep my wife healthy when I return home to her. Ensuring our family is safe and healthy keeps me going.
How can others help? Folks can help healthcare providers by believing science, following CDC guidelines, remaining home when possible, social distancing, washing their hands, and voting for political candidates who act in the interest of marginalized populations, and the environment.
Position: Registered Nurse (floats between ICU and Long Term Acute Care)
Hospital: Travels between several hospital systems throughout the Atlanta Metro Area.
What keeps you going? This has been the toughest part of my career so far. I became a nurse to help disenfranchised communities receive the care and health education they deserve. Communities that have been long neglected by the healthcare system such as Black, queer, women, and those who find themselves on the intersections of those identities. Watching my community take the brunt of this crisis has been overwhelming. I am not sure how I would deal with it if it wasn't for my amazing boyfriend, doting friends, loving family, and my two extremely energetic and supportive Pitbulls.
How can non-nurses help out? By social distancing! I know this is hard, but social distancing and staying at home is saving lives. Wash your hands often, wear a mask, continue to isolate, and encourage your friends to do the same. We are truly grateful for all the love and support. The greatest thing you can do to help us is to stay inside and stay safe.
Position: Registered Nurse in Emergency Department
Hospital: Westchester Medical Center
What keeps you going? What keeps me going during this pandemic: lots of SELF CARE, the unwavering emotional support from my girlfriend, and gratitude for the outpour of the community's support during this time
How can others help? Caring for others is as important as caring for ourselves. The world will be a much better place if we start to realize things like, we may be asymptomatic but still spreading it to people who are vulnerable, so wearing the masks are just as much for ourselves as they are for others
Position: Emergency Room / Trauma Registered Nurse
Hospital: East Jefferson General Hospital / University Medical Center New Orleans
What keeps you going during this pandemic? I think exuding positivity and trying to find cheerful moments has kept me going. Being Nurse Cupcake [her nickname] to my colleagues and giving patients 100 percent of what I have. Talking about mental health and not being ashamed of having weak moments. Celebrating each other and being grateful for the little things and precious moments with each team member I come across. I'm going through -- and we are all going through -- turmoil personally, and I will say professionally, is equally as exhausting. But I take my deep breath, feel my heartbeat, and remind myself I'm lucky to be alive and I'm lucky to be a nurse and be a badass while doing what I love.
How can people who are not nurses help? Be supportive of us and all healthcare workers from our environmental services staff, technicians and assistants/ medics to the nurses and doctors because it takes a village to care for this pandemic. Follow the guidelines, wash your hands, and wear the masks and just stay home because we have to leave our family and our homes to do what we do best. Most importantly be forgiving during this tumultuous time as your nurses are doing the best that they can. Sometimes all we need is an air hug and a listening ear.