This is my own perspective, and does not represent my employer.
I have been seeing COVID posts and COVID vaccine posts shared by those not in health care. I am NOT a frontline employee. I work in data as support staff. From where I sit, this is what has occurred in healthcare since the pandemic began.
COVID hit. Healthcare workers became heroes. Frontline nurses and doctors died, got sick, and many worked 12+ hour days helping patients in need. Cleaning staff worked diligently to maintain any spread. Some hospitals had to shut down non-critical services, which resulted in layoffs. Support staff worked extra hours to decrease the burden of the shortage. Supplies ran out. No masks. Few ventilators. Eventually, the first wave ended.
An entire testing and lab ordering system was built up with amazing speed. New treatments emerged, and we hoped for a slow down. Data and dashboard tracking arrived. Non-critical services re-opened. But a second wave hit. This time, fewer patients seemed to die. However, nurses and docs were called to the rescue again. Vaccine development was pushed. The second wave slowed.
And a third wave rolled in. Treatments were better, lab results faster. Yet, nurses, docs, and support staff were called on again. But this time, they were getting tired and burned out. Nursing is largely female, and many nurses are mothers. It was impossible for many to maintain work, family, and the stress of remote education. Doctoring is already a stressful position. A third wave made the stress worse. The health care workforce started to dwindle. Hospital beds stayed full. Outpatient areas stayed busy. Thankfully, vaccines became authorized for emergency use! We started to rejoice at the thought of science overcoming COVID. And again – the wave started to subside.
Things were calm for a minute as people made their choice on getting vaccinated. Vaccines brought needed joy to a burdened workforce. But then health care had to make a difficult choice.
Many patients refused treatment if their healthcare provider wasn’t vaccinated. Yet, some (15-30%ish) of healthcare workers weren’t ready yet. Health care started requiring the vaccine.
The mandated vaccine caused a lot of tough discussions. Some healthcare workers got the vaccine because they had to. Some refused for their religion. Some protested, saying they felt their freedom to choose was infringed upon. Others who were vaccinated got upset. They didn’t want to work with people that wouldn’t get vaccinated. Some patients were grateful to know their healthcare provider was vaccinated. Other patients were upset a vaccine was mandated.
Hospital floors lost more staff. Outpatient areas called agencies begging for nurses. But there are no nurses left. Doctors are exhausted, burned out, and tired. A crisis looms.
And now – the fourth wave is hitting. Floors are full of patients as healthcare struggles to maintain a grip on a hellish pandemic. Some supplies are dwindling again. Ventilators are being counted in case they run out. Capacity is full.
I share this not to scare anyone, but the reality is hard. Right now, healthcare needs your love, kindness, and support. It is needed now more than ever.
If you want to help, spread kindness, and do all you can to maintain your health. If you know a Frontline staff worker, thank them and just listen. They need you, and they need us.