Amid our global pandemic, some of our heroes last week petitioned for help, just yards away from the White House.
Did you hear their plea for protection?
Clad in red shirts and wearing face masks, union members of National Nurses United stood among 88 pairs of white rubber clogs, each pair representing a nurse who died while fighting the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. To honor their fallen colleagues, they read the names of the dead out loud.
A registered nurse from Washington, D.C. was quoted as saying: “We ask you to imagine the nurse who would have walked in these shoes …Know that these shoes stand for someone who woke up in the morning—or maybe in the afternoon or the middle of the night—who pulled on their scrubs, kissed their children or other loved ones goodbye and headed to work, knowing they were walking into danger.”
Today — one day before the end of National Nurses Week — the number of nurses lost has increased and that is not okay with me.
What is disturbing is that nurses are dying because they are continuing to treat coronavirus patients without proper protective equipment. Even more disconcerting is that nurses are being asked to make troublesome (sometimes deadly) compromises like reusing single-use face masks and gowns, sharing a mask with other personnel, and being in close contact with asymptomatic/untested patients without a mask. And perhaps the most sinister of all, is the relaxing of CDC guidance that shifted from N95 masks being the acceptable standard of protective gear for medical personnel and patients to the sanctioning of commercial grade masks, surgical masks and homemade masks (to counter the dwindling supply of protective resources, with no evidence that they provide any significant protection from the virus).
This is a systemic failure!
I have an abundance of respect and admiration for nurses who have answered the call to provide compassionate and competent care to the sick, injured and wounded. It is unconscionable to ask, let alone expect, these warriors to go into battle against this pandemic without the proper support, equipment, and protection. To complicate things, we not only ask them to sacrifice themselves but their families and loved ones who they return home to.
While our praise and recognition for their efforts are nice, they are not sufficient.