When Do Nurses Lives Matter?
(Long post ahead)
This week I stood outside a negative pressure isolation room, holding the same N95 mask I’d used the last 3 times I went into the room, and stared at the teenager lying on the critical care bed in my PICU who’s test for COVID was pending. With the patient’s other medical history, I was sure they’d be negative (which they were). But it wasn’t definite yet. There was still risk. And per newly renovated policies, I reused that N95, putting it into a paper bag, rubbing it against the inside of that bag over and over every time I put it away and took it out. Any germs on that mask were lining the inside of that bag. If I can’t turn my back on a sterile field without it becoming unsterile, contaminated, then putting my mask inside a brown paper bag over and over and over certainly compromises the purpose of my mask. My healthcare organization doesn’t want us covering our N95s with surgical/procedure masks when we go into rooms—have to conserve PPE after all. And other more advance filtration/air circulating hoods and suits are “too expensive.” And one day soon, there’s going to be kid on the other side of that glass door who is confirmed positive and, as of right now, I will be expected to reuse a mask designed to protect me. I will stare at that kid and think about my son at home. I save lives. I am beyond proud to be a nurse. I love working PICU. But I don’t want to be a footnote in an article written about the heroes who died after continuous exposure to COVID and lack of proper PPE. I don’t want to be another name in a long list of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists who died because they continued to care for and treat infected patients while wearing a bandana or scarf. I don’t want my son to grow up without his mother because I couldn’t stand by and not care for my patients despite the risk to myself. When does my life matter?
Nurses get punched, spit on, threatened and nothing happens. We voice our concerns over unsafe ratios and no one listens. We follow evidence-based practices and are ignored when evidence isn’t followed and we speak up. When does our health matter?
If I’m too busy to double check a med before I give it, I’m held 100% accountable for any adverse reactions that happen that I should have caught. When will our CEOs, CMOs, CNOs, administrators be held accountable for our workplace acquired injuries, our workplace acquired infections that they know about and continue to do nothing about? When will they come to the bedside and keep our isolation carts stocked? When will they stop telling us how to perform bedside nursing from behind their desks or their non-medical degrees? I don’t have the time to fill out 3 different forms every time I go into a COVID room. My coworkers don’t have the time. Our other patients don’t deserve to lose the time we should have been using to give them the best care possible. If the people hurriedly modifying and creating policies that put my life and health at risk want me to follow those policies, they need to stand side by side with me every time I reuse my N95s.
My life matters. My health matters. My safety matters. Nurses are told over and over how valuable we are, how important we are, how indispensable we are—I’m tired of lip service. I want proof. Nothing is too expensive if it’s what keeps us alive. Stop wasting money printing “busy-work” forms and use that money to find us and supply us with proper PPE and staffing.
Nurses lives have always mattered and should never be taken for granted. My son will have his mother if I have to wear a diaper as a mask.
This is another reason why Nurses must come together. The only way nurses will ever have a voice is if we work together. As a union, nurses will be able to collectively bargain for better wages and safer work conditions for nurses and our patients. Now is the time to work together. Yet some nurses choose to take the abuse everyday. Enough is enough! Let’s work together and make a difference!Twiddly
When Do Nurses Lives Matter?
When it becomes more expensive to deal with strikes and walkouts than after getting a few nurses sick and dying than it does to have some extra masks and gowns.
Call your union representative. Or start a union. This is literally what they are there for.
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