Year of the Nurse
I am a nostalgia buff and love Downton Abbey. Last fall my family dressed in 1920 period costume for the premiere of the Downton Abbey feature film. I was excited this January about ringing in 2020 and more opportunities to celebrate with 20’s fashion. Little did I know that my wardrobe would soon include wearing a face mask in public.
As January 2020 came to a close, ONA began talking about this mysterious virus that we had vaguely heard about in December, as there was now a case in Washington state. We began to wonder what we should be doing as an organization. I spoke with colleagues from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Columbus Public Health (CPH). The ONA Director of Marketing and Communications, Molly Homan, set up a Coronavirus resource page on our website with links to ODH and CPH, https://ohnurses.org/coronavirus/. At that time, many of us were thinking this may be like Influenza; or maybe we are preparing for something like past Ebola outbreaks that had little effect here in Ohio.
Then came February…
In February, reports of Coronavirus or COVID–19 infection spread in Washington state and cases began to grow. Here in Ohio that still felt far away. We continued to plan in-person upcoming conferences and looked forward to Year of the Nurse celebrations through conferences and events.
COVID-19 hit Ohio. “The Arnold” was canceled. Governor DeWine and his health experts decided to cancel one of the biggest spring revenue generators to our state. Schools closed, events were cancelled, hospitals stopped elective surgeries. Many were working together to “flatten the curve.” Citizens were home schooling and sheltering in place. Our bedside nurses were busy securing PPE and learning all they could on how to manage these very sick patients while keeping themselves and their families safe. Many of our members were featured in local and national media discussing the lack of PPE and describing how sick these patients were in an effort to improve public perception of how terrible this new virus actually is, and what it was capable of
Ohio saw its largest one-day total of infections. Across the country reports of the death and devastation throughout our world and especially New York state were overwhelming. The economic toll became very real for many, including nurses being furloughed and laid off. Many nurses were living in their cars or seeking hotel or alternative housing to keep their families safe as they cared for critical patients.
As May came..
Many were hopeful. It is warmer, you can get outside, the curve is flattening. As businesses opened, so did homes and spirits. Many were excited to see one another and began celebrating. Figuring out how to celebrate graduations and other once in a lifetime events became priority. Creativity abounded and many found themselves in drive by birthday parties and zoom graduation ceremonies. Our “new normal” began to take shape. Hospitals were once again performing elective surgeries. The number of critically ill Coronavirus cases were decreasing. Some were beginning to feel as if maybe we can get back to sports and other things we love to do.
Cautious optimism. As the weather temperatures continued to rise, many were gathering with friends and neighbors in backyards. The zoo and other beloved summer outings had plans for re-opening. But, those of us in healthcare were watching rates of infections rise in many states. As scenes from California and Florida beaches showed large gatherings and a lack of social distancing, we had a mix of emotions – sadness, perhaps anger, and even a level of fear for what this behavior would bring. In healthcare, we knew this “thing” wasn’t over - we still needed to be careful.
Now it is July...
Many are tired, but we still need to keep diligent. Facial coverings in public are now scientifically recognized as a crucial step in deterring this invisible enemy. Cases are rising and now more than ever the Year of the Nurse needs to be about education, public health, and working together. We are nurses and we go where others may not, do what others cannot, and are known for putting health first. Have you seen the video of the young nurse in her wedding dress assisting a traffic crash victim? https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-nurse-minnesota-newlywed-wedding-gown-help-car-accident-victim-20200701-hpafqkx5mfg55bzklpkszv5sbu-story.html Our nursing culture of jumping in, lending a hand, and concern for others is needed in our world now more than ever.
Thank you for all that you do every day. What a Year of the Nurse it has been and I am sure there is more to come….