Many Americans have begun adjusting to life under social distance measures, staying at home and away from other humans as much as possible. But not everyone has hopped aboard the "flatten the curve" wagon, and healthcare workers have a message for those who haven't.
Stay. Home. If you are able, stay at home and away from people. If you won't do it for yourself or for the elderly and immunocompromised, do it for the doctors and nurses who are literally putting their own lives on the line to make care for those who are ill. Right now, every hospital in the nation is preparing for a wave of COVID-19 patients, and medical experts are hoping Americans do what needs to be done to keep that wave from becoming a tsunami.
Doctors and nurses have taken to social media to encourage people to abide by the recommendation to stay at home as much as possible. A physician named Dr. Ahmed Rabea shared a selfie with a sign that reads, "I stayed at work for you. You stay at home for us!" It's a plea to all Americans to take action to slow the spread of the virus.
If we fail at this, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks with more critically ill patients than hospitals can handle. There won't be enough hospital beds. There won't be enough life-saving ventilators, and people will die who don't need to.
Dr. Ahmed Rabea
Italy has already shown us what happens when people don't take this virus seriously enough early enough, as their hospitals have been overrun and healthcare workers are struggling with having to decide which patients to treat and which patients to leave to their fate.
(Yes, Italy's population is older than the U.S. But our age demographics aren't as drastically different as people are making it sound. Italy's over-65 age group makes up 22 percent of its population vs. 15 percent in the U.S. And Italy has more hospital beds and doctors per 1000 people than the U.S. has. We can't think it won't happen here.)
An Italian nurse named Irene shared a selfie of her own, completely wrapped in protective equipment, holding a sign that translates as: "Those who think 'It will not happen to me' will be the next person to be infected!!! Stay at home!!!"
She also wrote about the emotional toll Italy's coronavirus crisis is taking.
"Yesterday I had the first emotional breakdown," she wrote. "I cried a lot because on my way home from work the city was crowded with people. I live near a big park and walked past it to get home. There were groups of people doing exercises, others running their dogs (at least three of them).
Meanwhile, the materials to protect us are starting to run out.
You don't understand. You don't have to find a way around the system. You have to stay home. Period.
STAY AT HOME.
An American nurse, Ashley Barton, also shared the message that people need to stay put, pointing out repeatedly that "It's not about you."
"It's not about you.
I'm a nurse working on the front line of COVID-19. When I mean front line, I mean since the hospital essentially went on lockdown since this virus was announced a pandemic, I've been working at the main entrance screening every single person that walks in those doors. Even those who are trying to find the Emergency Department so they can be tested for COVID-19.
Every single person gets asked the same series of questions. If you fail the screening you are asked to leave.
It is the same criteria for staff.
Let me tell you—many people are very unhappy about this.
But guess what, it's not about you.
It's about the mother of 3 undergoing chemotherapy on the Cancer Ward that has zero immune system.
It's about the 30 week old NICU baby that has already had to fight every single day of its life to stay alive.
It's about the favourite uncle that just had a massive stroke and is just barely out of the woods.
It's about the father of 2 who just had open heart surgery and has a long road of healing ahead.
It's about the grandmother who had broken her hip last week and is just beginning to mobilize again.
It's about protecting them. Not about punishing you.
I was yelled at on multiple occasions over the past couple of days while I worked my shifts.
"Well this isn't fair- Yes, I travelled recently but I don't have symptoms!"
"I have other places to be- the restricted hours are going to make me late"
"You will never understand until you have children!!"
"You have got to be kidding me- I'll have to wait in the car while my family member visits?!"
I'll say it again—IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.
I have a 13 month old son, I have elderly grandparents, I have people in my family who are very susceptible to getting ill and have a very difficult time recovering when they do get sick—I do not want them to contract this virus—and they aren't currently hospitalized.
People in the hospital are already immunocompromised, one more virus—especially this particular one—could KILL them.
This is a matter of life and death. Stop being selfish and think of everyone else who is already fighting for their lives here.
Yell at me? Fine. I can take it. I'm human, and I understand your frustrations. Honestly, we wish you could be with your loved ones, it decreases anxiety in the patients, facilitates healing and most definitely makes our jobs as busy nurses just a little bit easier. But policy is policy for a reason—it's not for punishment I can promise you that.
Maybe try to see things from our perspective before totally losing self control—we honestly are just looking out for those who really need it right now.
Out of respect for these heroes on the front line of this crisis, let's do what they're asking us to do. If you can, stay home.
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