Healthcare worker check in November 18, 2020 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Hey Metafilter healthcare workers, how you hanging in? You managing to look after yourself and stay safe? What’s been lifting your spirits and keeping you going? Alternatively what’s been absolute shit and can diaf?(besides the good sis covid of course.)
posted by supercrayon to MetaFilter-Related at 11:00 PM (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I have a job duty of trying identifying emergency contacts when we can't find an emergency contact for whatever reason, and more often than not I'm coming up empty. It usually gets resolved eventually, but in the moment it's such an important thing and i haven't been able to find anyone and i feel really bad about that.

I've spent alot of time taking with my social worker peers about COVID positive discharges. We are the primary way to help people apply for the public health provided services that assist with isolation /quarantine issues, were trained in the referral processes, know resources. We know that our population is primarily renters, low income, and many of them live in multi-generational households. We also have people who are homeless etc living in congregate settings or find shelter via public transit, bus stops, encampments, etc.

The number of referrals we are getting on the ER side is low. Our physicians and nurses are our eyes and ears on these things, but they are so overburdened and things are moving so fast that what happens after someone who is medically stable and COVID positive just isn't on their minds. So they go, and if they are in need maybe getting addressed, maybe not. Also reviews of referrals for these services isn't possible 24 hours a day, and keeping people on site when we need the beds is a balance, and these are tough decisions. Anyway, the question is there a way for us to increase awareness of these programs when people need to know about them? Is there a way to get fliers available? Is there a way to distribute that doesn't overburden staff? Is this even a thing we can handle if the referrals go up?

I'm also involved with child abuse cases, community and domestic violence resources , substance abuse stuff, and various other things like getting people home, homelessness resources, some emotional support things, just so much stuff. None of that stuff has stopped.

Anyway, I'm a mess. Personally I'm seeing alot of things, i want so hard to be able to be more involved and at the same time I'm like a witness who has zero control and it's just happening around me. I can't do anything particularly useful- nothing i do will change the course of the disease, I can't get more help for anyone, i can't do a job I'm simply not trained to do.

In addition my spouse needs alot of in home support right now, our daughter is 2.5 and she's a handful and very upset about changes and routines and pretty much anything that isn't exactly what she wants to do right now, and it's taking its toll on the both of us. We are fighting more. My ability to be emotionally present is compromised. Our families live states away in so that's out for support.

The annoying cherry on top is my PTSD from my life is revved really high, and it's a highly distracting to have intrusive thoughts about it pretty much all the time and just have to keep powering through them to do what i need to do. It's like this whole seperate world of emotional processing I'm doing, I'm pretty sure it's the helplessness of it all. Least i have therapy for that.

One day I'm going to have a good cry about this.

Thanks for asking. I really haven't been talking, and I'm sorry to just dump, but i didn't realize I've been just waiting for someone to ask.

Thanks to everyone and all that you do, i super appreciate the work, and the time you took to read if you read this.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:27 AM on November 19 [78 favorites]

I'm happy that my clinical work is in-person. I think there's more depth to shared appreciation of colleagues, more cohesion among varied team members. I'm not a very social person, but it's nice to see people I don't live with sometimes.

I am angry at the ridiculous mix of restrictions and permissions for various activities and gatherings outside of work. Some very dangerous venues remain open for what seem to be political reasons.

I'm worried about the winter, and COVID surges in hospital, and about my own health. COVID could easily make me very, very sick based on my history. But I don't find it helpful to worry about that much, so I try to do my job, use PPE properly, and avoid potential community exposure.

The thread on the blue about the Atlantic article helped me appreciate how many of you have much more challenging situations, and it really seems to bring out the best in all of you. (I lurked.) Thanks for your work, including whatever you've had to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones. We live in some very strange times.

AlexiaSky, you are dealing with a lot, and I hope you can find some peace. I think your work is especially important even when it seems all jumbled from what you might usually do. Here, social work has similar challenges, and I think you and and your peers are particularly skilled at adapting to these strange times, even if it doesn't feel that way.
posted by sillyman at 5:23 AM on November 19 [20 favorites]

AlexiaSky, I'm glad you dumped, glad you got a chance to talk about that a bit. I'm sending great big hugs to you if you want them.

supercrayon, thank you so much for posting this, so we can offer a listening ear to MeFites who could use one right now.
posted by kristi at 8:37 AM on November 19 [11 favorites]

posted by dismas at 9:00 AM on November 19 [9 favorites]

I have two cousins, in another state, who are both nurses (and one is married to a respiratory therapist). I think about them a lot.

They're working so hard to take care of people who are so sick, and it makes me mad that some of their energy is going to people who denied that COVID was real, or who refused to take simple precautions like wearing a mask. I know that's part of the job, but it still feels like an insult.

I don't know what I can do to help besides keep my family home and wear a mask, so that's what I do.

Take care, y'all, and WEAR YOUR MASK & STAY HOME.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:07 AM on November 20 [4 favorites]

I'm a dentist, which, on the face of things, would be a pretty risky occupation, what with creating aerosol from the mouth with pretty much everything we do. Had I still been in my private practice, just up the road from Boeing in Mukilteo Wa., I might not have made it through last spring.

As chance and no small amount of foresight (for the climate around boeing at least, not coronavirus) might have it, I sold my practice fall of 2019 to work in public health with the Kalispel Tribe in Pend Oreille county washington, near the idaho border.

I saw the first reports out of China last January, and we had a team meeting about ordering a goodly supply of PPE -- thinking gloves and gowns not anticipating the N95 mask angle.

April and May were interesting, but we did manage our supply of PPE pretty well, and the Tribe and various grant agencies were super supportive in getting us air filtration units and allowing us to engineer both our work space and our patient load to maximize the safety of both the staff and our patient population.

I would say that my clinic is second only to my own home in being the safest place I spend time. We have a good mask protocol, and we spend at least 30 minutes every work day reviewing the latest info on covid19, from the increasing outbreak in our county, to the possibility of vaccines in the mid-future.

We share a building with a medical clinic, who test for, but do not treat covid19 patients. We have had 2 fatalities in our immediate area, but cases are continuing to rise because of our proximity to Idaho, where they are denying that covid is a thing (our county is also pretty rural, but also older, and these folks are pretty good about compliance).

The Native American community gets covid at 3x the national average, and die at 5x. We are all working very hard to keep them informed, safe and healthy, while protecting ourselves.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:42 PM on November 20 [23 favorites]

Thanks for the updates, everyone. I’m not a health worker, I’m just somebody who is grateful that there are health workers. I can’t imagine how hard this is for all of you. Please hang in there!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:28 PM on November 20 [5 favorites]

One day I'm going to have a good cry about this.

Hello, it me. Except the crying won't come out. I think if it ever did, I would explode.

I'm a nurse, I work in a hospital, but not directly with Covid patients (my job is sort of case-management-adjacent). My hospital got through the spring wave of Covid mostly all right, but multiple staff members did get sick and some were out for a month or longer. We've had several major floods in our building due to the plumbing reaching its end of life, so now they're shutting down rooms in batches to work on that, which is at least better than the day there was 4 inches of standing water in the ICU ...

I live alone, so in a way I'm glad that I have to go to work, because at least I see other people there. However, some maniac decided that last week was a good time to starting playing Christmas music in the cafeteria! Now every day I try to find someplace to sit and eat where I can't hear that stuff, because [redacted for excessively violent thoughts].

My cats are mostly lovely, except I can't clip their back claws without another person to help, so my belly and legs are covered with little punctures.

I'm tired of all this. There's no one to get a hug from. And I can't cry.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:25 PM on November 21 [6 favorites]

Thank you for this post, it really means a lot. I also appreciate seeing all the posts on AskMeFi, where posters ask if they can travel or socialize with others, and people kindly discourage them and point out the risks. This site has been a great distraction and source of community and support, even though I'm not a very active poster, so thank you, MeFites. As to the original question of how I am doing...

I am an MD in the US. I do not work in an inpatient setting. I am not working in a specialty that would directly treat patients for COVID (though both staff and patients in my organization have had exposures/cases). I am able to work remotely through telehealth part of the time (though still going in at least one day a week). That is to say, in terms of being a healthcare provider, I'm several ranks removed from "front line", and I am still more stressed out than I have ever been in my life. I'm constantly worried that one of our staff is going to get sick, we'll all have been exposed, and we won't be able to operate and provide care for folks who need it. Many of my friends from medical school are working in healthcare settings and states with much higher risk circumstances than mine, and the general themes I am seeing on social media are that all of us are scared and heartbroken and trying to sound the alarm that the situation we were all fearing in March is happening now, and begging our family and friends to not gather over Thanksgiving. So, I am doing "anxious". With a large side of "guilty" about being this anxious, because I still have a job, and that's only one way I am more privileged and/or fortunate than a lot of other folks these days.

Again, thank you for this post, and like AlexiaSky, sorry to dump. Masked, distanced, figurative air-hugs to you all. Stay safe out there.
posted by alygator at 9:09 PM on November 21 [5 favorites]

I'm tired of all this. There's no one to get a hug from. And I can't cry.

Flagged as fantastic. It sums up what I have been feeling and haven't been able to articulate. Thank you, shiny blue object.

I'm tech support, so have minimal contact with patients, but am in and out of clinics and hospitals (and the morgue) daily.

This is not easy.

Yet, we're getting through it.

HCWs, generally speaking are compassionate by nature. I have only seen more compassion for other staff as well as for those we care for in this time. I don't know where everyone is getting their emotional battery recharged.

Nevertheless, we persist.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:09 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]

I am a doc in Poland.

The first wave in the spring was treated very seriously by both the health authorities/government and society. We had a short lock-down and a universal mask mandate (initially outdoors as well as indoors, then indoors only) in March/April. I literally never saw a single COVID patient in my hospital (that I knew of).

Then the summer was a trickle of cases but people just went back to life as usual. Right at the beginning of summer, the PM said there was no need to fear the virus any more and he was GLAD to see so many people not wearing masks. People truly felt we had beaten the pandemic. Yeah, no.

It all went downhill after school started in September. Like, we went from hardly remembering there was a pandemic to almost everyone personally knowing several people who died and dozens who were/had been sick.

Now it's bad. Ambulances being refused in the ERs bad. Go somewhere else with your crashing patient, we have no ICU beds bad. Smaller hospitals running out of oxygen bad.

I am working in a non-COVID unit but since my hospital needs to open two more COVID units I am just waiting until I get transferred. I am stressed since it will be a brand new unit staffed by a very small staff of people pulled from different units, with complete staff change every week.
The COVID units are two buildings away from the ICU and we won't have anesthetists on staff so I'm worried about having enough support. I think I wouldn't worry half as much if I knew I would be working with people I know and trust since we pretty much have to hit the floor running. My heart goes out to all the healthcare workers in the hardest hit areas.

Hugs to all of you.
posted by M. at 1:02 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

I’m an OR nurse at a county-run Level I trauma center.

Our community prevalence is among the lowest in the nation, a fact for which I am deeply grateful and which I suspect is the only thing that’s kept me and my colleagues safe so far.

Our traumas, the constant parade of GSWs and stabbings and pedestrian-versus-auto and jumpers, aren’t tested—there’s no time. Our urgent cases are tested in the ED using a rapid antigen test known to have a high false-negative rate. Our scheduled cases are tested as outpatients some time during the seven days prior to their surgery. They spend the time between their test and their surgery at home, where they’re told to follow the same mask and social distancing protocols as the rest of the public. So of course that means they’re just as likely as anyone else these days to be contracting the virus. They aren’t tested again, but we’re supposed to choose our PPE based on their test result, which is every bit as absurd as it sounds.

One of my roles in the OR is to assist the anesthesia providers during intubation and extubation. During those processes, which are the very definition of an aerosolizing procedure, I’m inches from the patient’s airway.

That’s not to say that everyone on the unit isn’t, to a lesser extent, because the air in each OR is positive pressure relative to the surrounding hallways and rooms. Any time an OR door opens, air flows outward, directly into the face of the person walking into the room. When we mentioned this to infection control, they told us just to open and close the doors quickly and we should be OK.

It took the contact tracers ten days to tell me that the mother of one of my pediatric patients had covid. Normally we don’t allow visitors in the preoperative area but we made an exception for her. She and I were both wearing ear loop isolation masks during our encounter, but we were closer than 6’ for longer than 15 minutes, talking the whole time. Because we were both masked, occupational health said it didn’t actually constitute an occupational exposure and told me I didn’t need a test.

I am so fucking terrified of what it’s going to be like two weeks after Thanksgiving.
posted by jesourie at 6:18 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

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