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Life on the "Front Lines" during Covid-19 - a Nurse's Perspective

By Linda Kuska in Canada

Life has been much different for the entire WORLD with Covid-19 but what is it like for a Health Care Worker?

What is life on the "Front Lines"?

How are hospital workers dealing with this?

You all know me for my articles in this Newsletter as the "High-Performance Coach",  I am the Team Captain of the Rowbust BCS Dragon Boat Team in London, Ontario, Canada........... but in my "real" life, I am a Registered Nurse at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in London, Ontario, Canada where I have worked as an RN for 36 years.

LHSC is a very large Trauma Centre for Adults and Paediatrics and I am the Charge Nurse in the Orthopaedic Clinic that usually sees 500 to 700 patients per week.

But that has all drastically changed!!

Here in Canada, we heard about what was happening in Wuhan, China for weeks and we just couldn't believe what we were seeing. But you go about your everyday life, that is happening across the world and you think that it could never come here......WRONG!

Covid-19 knows no boundaries, it doesn't matter who you are, where you is affecting absolutely everyone.

I have worked through SARS, H1N1 but this is unlike anything the Health Care System has ever dealt with in our lifetime.

Everything is shut down, only essential services are still working. The streets are so quiet. Grocery stores and pharmacies are the busiest places but everyone is trying to stay 2m away from other people.

Social Distancing is in our everyday language now.

Self Isolation is being done by many.

News channels are doing a great job at reporting what is happening around the world but there is so much of it.

Coming to work is very quiet but now the staff has separate entrances from patients. Everyone is screened when they come in with a series of very specific questions.

Only the patients are allowed into the hospital and we are only seeing Urgent/Emergent patients. All other patients, elective procedures are cancelled until we don't know when......indefinitely.

Patients and families are calling wondering how they can be seen. We are talking to many on the phone instead of seeing them in person. This is safer for the patient and also safer for the staff at the hospital.....because we NEED to stay healthy!

There are many staff who have been exposed to the virus and are now in self Isolation. That means that many of our units are going short staffed and they are desperately looking for staff to work. Currently, in my unit, I am the only RN who can work, everyone else is in self Isolation because of either recent travel or being exposed to Covid-19. So I MUST stay healthy!

Then when you do work, you fear that you are going to be exposed unknowingly and take it home to your family, your parents, grandparents.........

Health Care Staff worry about so many things in the medical system and also what we hear from our patients:

  • Can I look after my patients effectively?

  • Do we have enough Personal Protective Equipment for all staff to be safe?

  • Am I going to take this virus home to my family?

  • I need to stay healthy!

  • Will there be enough hospital beds for patients?

  • Will there be enough ventilators if needed?

  • How are businesses going to survive?

  • How can people live with no income?

  • We watch other Countries and worry about Health Care Workers there and will it get that bad here....we just wait......and watch.....

  • Are we just at the beginning of this virus and how bad will it get?

  • Are we doing enough to prepare?

  • We NEED people to stay in Social Isolation and STOP this virus.........that is what everyone can do to help US!

And on and on.........there are so many thoughts that are going through everyone's mind right now but working on the Front Lines, we have so much more to worry about!

Our hospitals are preparing for the potential of overflowing hospital beds and needing more ventilators .....because we have watched what has happened in China, Italy, Spain, France, United States and other countries.......we watch and wait for this invisible enemy to come knocking at our doorstep.

How do we keep our sanity in all of this? 

Health Care workers also need to look after ourselves.

What I do is I draw on my experience with Dragon Boating to help me through.

I exercise........exercise helps to keeps ME sane!

I turn off the news and go outside for a run (keeping my social distance from everyone else), I continue my Circuit Training........because I NEED to do this, this clears my mind and keeps me healthy!

I call my friends, video chat with them or we exercise together by video!!

Everything we know as dragon boaters is different..........but we need to find a way to get through this and stay healthy!

What can YOU do to help the Health Care Workers..........stay away from everyone, keep your social distance, stay quarantined if required.....we NEED TO STOP THIS VIRUS!

What will the next few months be like? I have no idea but we all need to work together to stop this virus!!

To all my fellow dragon boat Health Care Workers.........
Stay strong, stay safe and stay healthy and look after yourself.