The Golden Rule…
I never took an oath or swore to protect anyone, maybe my husband somewhere in those vows. But the mission of every healthcare organization to some extent is to do the best for its clients, and it is this golden rule that every healthcare worker operates by for patient care. Or at least we should……
I could imagine that every soldier in battle, every firefighter quenching flames, every law enforcement officer having to avoid danger, struggles with choosing self-preservation over meeting the objective of their line of work. I could assume that as healthcare workers, we all have this same struggle. Putting the care of someone else above our own safety can open the door for fear, anxiety, desire for self-preservation, bitterness, anger and all those creepy crawly emotions that can take you down.
Since the current circumstances have settled here in our country, healthcare has had to respond. I am an occupational therapist currently working in the home health setting. So unlike my peers in a hospital who are preparing for sick individuals to come to them, I’m going to sick individuals in their environment. Normally this is an advantage because my peers in the hospitals and rehab units fix the patients up well enough for them to go home and I continue helping them back to health. But sometimes, I could be the first person that notices they need to seek medical attention. And this is the current climate as a home health care worker.
Low supplies, facilities denying you access to your patients, anxiety that the doorbell you ring or the door handle you touch could harbor microscopic villains, all make your day extra difficult. You stop for gas and it takes longer because you have to sanitize the pump or glove up before pumping. And to make matters worse the guy on the other side of the hot dog station is coughing. Exit left while holding my breath (I was using the microwave, not getting a hot dog). One of my patients asks why am I wearing long sleeves on an 80-degree day, “ I use my sleeves to cover my hands when opening a door”.
Every client asks what we are doing differently in light of this pandemic and all I can say is that we are doing the things we should always be doing, good hand hygiene and surveying if a patient has contagious symptoms that require medical attention. I don’t know if that’s enough for them. And sometimes I don’t know if it’s a good enough answer for me. The fear that I could come in contact with the virus and inadvertently spread it to my clients is what keeps me on high alert. But when my day of protecting them ends, protecting my family then becomes priority one.
When I come in the door, I push my 6-year old’s hugs away, telling her she must wait until mommy gets out of her work clothes. I place my shoes in “their spot”, and head straight to the bathroom to get out of those clothes, wash hands and sometimes body at that moment and place the clothes in “their basket”. But here’s the catch, I did this before the current pandemic.
Most healthcare workers, especially those in hospitals have cared for patients with contagious diseases and if we have avoided contracting those things in the past, we’ll do the same here as long as we all follow the rules we all know to do. Will there be fear and anxiety; yes, but that’s just another day in healthcare. Practice good self-care in these times of heightened anxiety. Use honesty and integrity, pray and provide the best care because you’re on the frontline.