‘I can’t fight the call of duty I feel, the call to help my fellow nurses. But I’m still scared.’: Traveling nurse says healthcare workers are fighting ‘a war none of us asked for’

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“I’ve been off work for the last 3 months due to a back injury. I had surgery a month ago. Next week, I return to my job as a nurse, 4 weeks post-surgery. My job has dramatically changed since I left, and I am scared.

Now, I could easily stay off work longer and take care of myself and my back after surgery. I could ride out this virus in the safety of my own home but like most other nurses, I can’t fight the call of duty I feel. The call to care for the influx of sick who will be coming into our hospitals, the call to help out my fellow nurses. But I am still scared.

I am scared the public isn’t taking this threat seriously enough. I’ve seen pictures of packed bars in Chicago this past weekend and beaches in Florida. I’m scared our country is going to go the way of Italy and I know we are not prepared. I’m scared I will be watching people die and be unable to help. I’m terrified that person will be my coworker, my family, or myself.

See, not only am I a nurse but I am a traveling nurse. In my almost decade long career, I’ve worked at roughly 30 hospitals of all sizes and variety and they all had one main thing in common: not enough staff and too many patients.

The thing is, just because coronavirus is happening doesn’t mean everyone else stops getting sick. People still have heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, accidents, traumas, and more.

As it is, our hospitals are at capacity. I’ve seen hospitals boarding upwards of 30 to 40 people in their ER’s at times. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means the hospital is already full. There is not a single inpatient bed available and there are 30 patients in the ER with orders to be admitted waiting for a bed to open up. Plus, God only knows how many ER patients down there that might also need admission.

Do you really think we can handle the coronavirus on top of that?

I beg of you, please listen and stay inside. Please help us fight this virus and flatten the curve. We healthcare workers are already stressed out. We’re already fighting a hard battle on a daily basis with staffing shortages and high patient loads. This is a war that none of us asked for.

If you know a healthcare worker, reach out and see if there is anything you can do. Do they need help with childcare, grocery shopping, or a meal made? Consider having food delivered to a floor at your local hospital. If you have children stuck at home, make cards thanking the healthcare staff and send it to your local hospital or nursing home. We healthcare workers are about to start working very long shifts and pulling overtime hours that are unheard of to try to take care of your family. Please help us take care of ours. Please thank a nurse today and every day as we band together to fight this war.

In years to come, we can look back on this and say how this virus brought our country together or tore it apart. I would like to believe that it will bring it together.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenn Kocelko. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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