It was a beautiful sunny day with clear skies as I began gathering my thoughts in preparation for my last speech as Treasurer for the Charity-Delgado School of Nursing. It was graduation time in the year 2000, and we were all so excited as we discussed our five to ten-year plan to conquer the world of nursing in our own way. After all, we were trained in the number one trauma center in Louisiana- Charity Hospital. I remember being so scared of the next chapter yet ready. We practiced in wards versus private rooms. These wards would be filled with anywhere from 10-20 patients at a time. There would be medical students, nursing students, medical residents, dietician residents, and many others trying to learn and practice medicine. It was here that I learned Charles Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest." We had a paper charting system that hung from a patient's bed. You had to learn pretty fast on essential assessment information about your patients, or you could end up with the wrong chart on a patient and make a medical decision that could cause harm to a patient. That moment taught me that the patient is my number one priority, and I had to protect the patient. To give you a bigger picture, this was the stroke ward where many of the patients had suffered from Aphasia and had no family members present due to limited space in the wards.
During this time of the Pandemic called Coronavirus or COVID-19, I am reminded that our patients should be our number one priority. Those wards represent the battlefields of life, and all medical staff members were put there to protect and serve and cover one another in the battle of life. This Pandemic has placed a mirror effect on the community to recognize the importance of valuing life and, more importantly, valuing community. I recently witnessed in a news report a physician saying this is not why she became a doctor, and a nurse saying this is not why he became a nurse. Well, imagine a soldier on the battlefield next to you during a battle that decides to put down their weapon and walk away, leaving you unprotected. COVID-19 is the war and medical professionals; we are the soldiers. We must rise up and take our place on the battlefield and protect our community by serving the patients, bringing awareness to this disease, encouraging one another to keep fighting, and remember our purpose as medical professionals. We will graduate from this Pandemic, and I believe we will begin to have visions and action plans to forecast what medicine will be like 5-10 years from now as we dream of a master plan.
Here Are Some General Prevention Tips:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help reduce the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Practice Social Distancing: use alternative ways to greet others (no handshaking, hugging, etc.)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- CDC's recommendations for using a face mask should be followed
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, often with soap and water
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Stay home when you are sick
To everyone in healthcare still on the battlefields/frontline, I salute you.