Healthcare professionals throughout the United States are taking multiple precautions in order to protect themselves and their patients against COVID-19.
With a lack of adequate supplies throughout the nation, many healthcare workers are struggling to protect themselves from the virus. Most workers are doing whatever they can in order to appropriately avoid risk while still protecting patients. Carrie Robinson, a patient coordinator who has been a nurse for four years, said she has even been exposed to possible cases.
“I quarantined from my son and husband for four days,” Robinson said. “The unknown is what is so scary.”
Many hospitals have begun to check temperatures right as patients and visitors enter the building. Many healthcare workers have to face their fears when they go into work. Robinson risks her health and her family’s well-being everyday.
“As healthcare professionals, we have the knowledge to know what could happen to us if we become positive for coronavirus,” Robinson said.
Many are worried about their family members in the hospital with pre-existing conditions, especially now that most hospitals are restricting visitation. Patients inside the hospital are just as terrified, especially without their loved ones around for comfort.
In addition, hospitals are struggling to find supplies for their patients, and workers. Many masks are being reused after sterilization.
Robinson said that when the virus enters a host, it comes in contact with the mucus membranes that line the nose, mouth and eyes. From this, lungs and airways get inflamed, causing shortness of breath and a dry cough. Robinson hopes many will see the severity of the virus and the impact it has on the community and the nation.
“Some people don’t realize how serious COVID-19 is,” Robinson said. “Some think it’s just the simple flu, which is far from the truth.”
Pharmacies around the nation are installing plexiglass barriers for the safety of both pharmacists and visitors. In addition to wiping down surfaces and wearing masks for precaution, pharmacists are also encouraging sick patients, regardless of their illness, to use the drive-thru.
Ede Fuller has been a pharmacist for 36 years and said small, ordinary measures of precaution, such as social distancing, can save lives.
“Many do not realize that the healthcare system is reaching capacity,” Fuller said. “People need to be very patient and stay at home.”
Fuller takes precaution when leaving work by wiping down her personal items and washing her lab coat daily. She wears gloves in public places and uses a weak solution of bleach to wash her purchases. Although she does admit it is a struggle to take so many precautions, this ultimately protects her family and coworkers.
“The biggest struggle is also not being able to hug or touch my family members,” Fuller said. “Another struggle is wanting to be compassionate with patients, yet I know each interaction may endanger my family.”
Hannah Murdock, a registered nurse who graduated from Southern Miss, said that hospitals are encouraging workers to be aware of symptoms and alert doctors immediately if anyone shows signs of COVID-19. At her hospital, she says that there are two floors dedicated to COVID-19 patients and the hospital encourages everyone to wear a mask when visiting those floors. While supplies are low, Murdock has been reusing her mask in order to conserve materials. She washes her hands more frequently now that the awareness of the virus is much more prevalent.
Hattiesburg hospitals have yet to run out of supplies or room for the ill. As the virus increases, however, Murdock said that it is only a matter of time before things change.
“We have not run out of supplies yet,” Murdock said. “It will be this way until we start getting overflow patients from other states, or until Hattiesburg’s infection rate increases.”
Murdock also said that many young people fail to see the seriousness of COVID-19. Murdock urges everyone to follow the executive orders set in place, practice social distancing and protect themselves against the virus to prevent sickness. She also urges everyone to listen to healthcare professionals, as they are on the front lines of the pandemic.