Gratitude & Pride
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.
What does it mean to save a life? To lead? To care compassionately for someone else when one’s own health and safety is potentially at risk? Ask these questions of any frontline caregiver in the world today and you will likely find more questions, and answers replete with uncertainty and fear. We’ve never seen anything like this before.
People are dying – some, already compromised, some, otherwise healthy; young and old, patient and caregiver. The lay public knows all about PPE now, how precious it is, how previously strict utilization guidelines imposed by regulatory agencies have been, perhaps shockingly, relaxed, and how some healthcare professionals now work in wards where their supply of PPE has simply run out. Think about that – frontline caregivers in the wake of a global pandemic working without personal protective equipment. This is horrifying.
And yet, more than 500,000 people have volunteered for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom to assist those in need of assistance during home quarantine - and 35,000 previously retired nurses and physicians have signed up to go back to work on the frontlines. Dyson and MIT are mobilizing efforts to produce additional lifesaving artificial ventilators for strapped intensive care units. And in Morristown, New Jersey, a weary man holds one hand over his heart while raising a homemade sign to a window with his other hand, proclaiming: “Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife’s life. I love you all.”
The nightmare is real – and it has come home. There are over 85,000 known cases in the United States as of this morning – more than any other nation in the world. As a fourteen-year veteran of the emergency department I stand poised with my colleagues at the pier - reining in a river with a Dixie cup - and I have never been more proud to call myself a nurse.