Nurses – Superheroes Who Sometimes Need Help 

Gabrielle Owens

Gabrielle Owens

Final PhotoVoice Coronavirus Project Portfolio

Nurses- Superheroes Who Sometimes Need Help 

Within the whole entire world, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created a huge pandemic for millions of people. The Coronavirus is an infectious disease that can either impact and affect others by having treatment, or sadly develop even more illness within people.  The World Health Organization has said that sometimes COVID-19 can allow people to “experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment”(World Health). While others that have any medical history or problems that are related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer are more likely to develop a serious illness. Millions of people are in an economic tragedy as people lose jobs, and prices for everything drop. The medical field has been nonstop trying to find vaccines while taking care of patients- and keeping themselves safe as well. Every single nurse, doctor, PA, etc., are true superheroes.

Both of my parents are my role models and my favorite superheroes. My Mom works as a Telemetry (works with patients that have many heart problems) nurse, while my Dad is a Trauma Orthopedic (works with patients who are in terrible accidents). They work night-shifts and serve patients about four to five times a week. About a month and a half ago, because of Cronoavirus taking over the world, my Dad had to become a COVID-19 nurse every night. He has been thoroughly challenged with how to care for patients while making sure he is as safe as possible. When speaking to him through interviews at home, he had many insights on what hospitals have had to do. And what it is like to work with patients who have the virus right in front of him.

Figure 1

This photo was right before everything with COVID-19 changed my parent’s lives forever. They were able to get off work for a couple of days and wanted a quick vacation. They were enjoying their time at one of the prettiest waterfalls in Washington state, just a couple weeks before Coronavirus became part of their everyday routine at work. Adam spoke about how fast life can change as he stated:

“I never thought that I was going to have to face one of the scariest and deadliest diseases head on. I love my job and everything about it. However, knowing that I could possibly infect my family was one of the biggest things that worried me the most”.

Adam is my Father and one of my best friends. He is a 43-year-old, and has worked in a hospital as a nurse for over 24+ years. He has been my father for 19+ years and is one of my biggest role models. I am beyond blessed to have a Dad that takes care of me and serves others in such a positive and loving way. 

Adam was able to give me a new perspective on how much Nurses need support. One of the pros of being a first-liner is being able to have many free items from different places. Because Adam worked night shifts, he would be exhausted every morning, and thankfully McDonald’s wanted to give back and were giving free Breakfast meals with any size Coffee for Nurses and First-line workers. This has been one of the most beneficial and thoughtful gifts my Dad has received through this time. However, there have been too many struggles and challenges related to safety within so many hospitals. Adam realized the importance of people helping First-line people as he stated:

“I never realized how blessed I am. One business after another, I was able to get free food. No one knew I was a COVID-19 Nurse, but they did not need to. They appreciated that I just worked in the medical field. I was able to get free donuts, free meals, and even extra help with my phone plan, just because people knew that front-liners needed help during this time”!

Figure 2

This image shows Adam on his way home from a 12-hour shift as a COVID-19 nurse. It was a cold day in Seattle, around 56 degrees, and he was exhausted from a long day at work. He was able to get some free Hot Coffee from McDonald’s so he could safely get home. He was very thankful that he could finally take his mask off, and be able to breathe more comfortably too. He stated how uncomfortable it is to wear a mask non-stop and breathe at the same time.

Safety is a key part whenever you are at any hospital. A huge area of concern that was shown was how nurses are not having all the safety equipment or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that they need to help these patients. Adam has been a COVID-19 Positive Nurse for the past month and a half and all he is able to wear is a surgical mask that can not protect you from anything. Surgical masks may look like they cover and keep you protected but things like, bacteria, and dirty air can easily slide their way into your airways. A surgical mask does not allow the mask to tightly protect your mouth and nose. While an N95 mask is one of the most efficient and protective masks out there right now. The N95 allows for safe breathing, without any bacteria to come in.  For the past month, my Dad has had to be super careful when wearing just a surgical mask. He has had to touch and talk to COVID-19 patients that are less than a foot in front of him- which have not been very safe. He stated the inconvenience of this mask problem as he stated:

“One of the hardest parts about being a COVID-19 nurse is not having all the protective gear that I need. It always makes me worried when I have to go to work, without having all the gear I should be wearing. I not only want to become infected, but I definitely always worry about giving it to anyone else that I stay in contact with”.

He demonstrates how significant it is to make sure that the nurses are safe, because who else will be able to help the patients if they are the ones that are getting infected? He has been fighting for this problem within a hospital setting and keeps standing up for people to be able to wear N95 masks if they own one- or to start buying more soon for the COVID-19 nurses. He demonstrated the seriousness of this by stating how “this problem has been overwhelming and depressing. I want to fight for me and my fellow co-workers, but it is very challenging to gain more support and gear.” He has talked to hospital administrators about making it a necessity to not only wear gloves, goggles, and a medical robe, but to have the most protective masks possible.

Figure 3

This image shows Adam with his N95 mask. This photo was taken about a couple weeks after his first night working as a COVID-19 Nurse. Since no one at the hospital was able to provide the protective N95 masks, he decided to bring one of his own from home. He was worried that he would not be fully safe if he had to just wear a small surgical mask. He brought his own from home, so that he knew he would be more protected than any other protective equipment a hospital would give.

Another problem that has affected hundreds of thousands of nurses within the past month is the loss of jobs. Since there are too many nurses, who may not physically be working with COVID-19 patients, many are becoming furloughed. Thousands of doctors and nurses that would be helping with certain surgeries are at a hold because of Corona, which means hospital workers and clinicians are starting to have layoffs and furloughs. Furloughs allow the nurses and doctors to come back to work when hospitals are ready to take them back. However they will not receive any pay when they are furloughed. Hospitals are not having as many surgeries unless it is mostly related to Corona or if it is related to a serious surgery or medical condition. This then impacts why so many nurses are losing their jobs and not getting paid. These nurses are our only hope to stay strong for these patients who have Corona or who will be infected with Corona. Adam speaks about how “the more people we have to help serve and support, the better. People need as much support as they can get”! Adam’s conversation revealed to me how important it is for healthcare workers to make sure they will have a job to serve. They all have a way to help and support- so why not let them? There is a lot of concern about the economy during this time, but Adam is demonstrating how nurses and doctors need to keep working while staying protected, so they can figure out how to make the best vaccine possible for the world!

Adam’s hopes and dreams are to find new ways to not lose economic growth, and learn how to help nurses and medical personnel to keep their jobs. Maybe instead of nurses working 100%, everyone keeps their jobs and only will be able to get paid 60%.  In WA state many of the nurses are applying for loans from school, their houses, etc.. Washington is one of the most expensive states in the nation, and if nurses just lost their whole job, where are they supposed to go? This is one of the main themes of making a difference within the world right now. Adam spoke more about this when he talked about how:

“People need to work. We all do. If I was not working as a COVID-19 nurse, I would probably be furloughed too. Which is scary to think about. I have a family to take care of all around the world. If I have no job, I am not going to be able to support my family like I usually do”.

Not too long ago I read about how Cuba is handling the pandemic and this made me look at things in a new way.  The article was related to how US doctors are starting to use a Cuban approach to detect community spread of Corona. Dr. Melissa Barber is the coordinator of the U.S. Cuba scholarship program that provides free medical training for U.S. doctors in Cuba. This is what we need right now. Adam made it clear how “we need all hands on deck to get this disease treated, and to save as many lives as possible.” This Cuban approach allows people to finish school and make sure that they are committed to help serve and better their communities. Within the article “Cuban-Trained Doctor Helps Mobilize Pandemic Response in Her South Bronx Community” it stated how “third, fourth and fifth-year medical students are the ones knocking on the doors to make sure no one has flu-like or respiratory symptoms that are specific to the coronavirus”(Tarleton). It shows how if they do encounter a person who has certain symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, they tell them which location to go to get tested and screened. After that step, if they are tested positive, then there are many medical centers that people get sent to, so they can be fully treated and cared for!

One unifying theme about all the images and statements my Adam was able to provide was related to the hope and dream of supporting medical personnel. This theme of supporting and helping out doctors and nurses within the world is all related to the idea of how the economy within the medical workforce is decreasing massively. This is what we need right now in the nation. We need a community that can work fully together in every hospital. We need the minds of many intelligent doctors, nurses, practitioners, etc., to help and support people. This article adds to Adam’s idea in so many ways. Instead of just dropping many jobs and not giving the right protection for these nurses, this is when we need the most support and protection as needed. We can’t just quit and stop, and “hope” that it will treat itself and all these suffering patients will one day be healed. It does not work like that. Adam spoke on this topic when stated:

“The more hands on we are, the better we will be at supporting others. I truly believe that nurses and doctors need to keep working. Without them, we are all going downhill”.

I have done some more research on the topic of how the jobs are being affected just within the medical workplace. It is so devastating to see how many people are losing jobs every single day- whether they are a nurse or just a restaurant owner. When it related to hospitals and the medical field, it has been so surprising to see where the statistics stand. Within an article called “The Healthcare Workers Who Are Losing Their Jobs”,  in the health care system they have had to “cut 42,500 jobs in March as the coronavirus epidemic forced providers to delay an array of non-urgent procedures and doctor visits, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics” (HealthLeaders News). People have been noticing that not only nurses within the outpatient setting are getting cut back, but also in hospitals too. The nation’s economy is lowering more and more and people especially in the medical field are starting to feel the risks and setbacks within their own lives.

This reminds me of the military. Every single soldier knows that they will have to fight to protect the nation from this disease. Adam is a soldier in the medical field. He stated, “I never take anything for granted anymore. These people who have this disease are truly fighting for their lives. I want to fight for them too “. He knows that he has to go right into a room and take care of patients who have the deadliest disease in the world right now. We have to fight and share with others how important it is to have nurses and doctors with the best equipment to help serve. We need as much help as we can, and these nurses not only need to work and make sure that they still have their jobs, but need to know that they will be safe and protected too. Medical first-liners matter so much within this world. They need protective equipment and economic support, to give the most help to this nation, and the world. WE can help make a change in the world. And to help medical personnel, gain the support and necessary equipment that they need.


WORKS CITED

HealthLeaders, AXIOS. “The Healthcare Workers Who Are Losing Their Jobs.” HealthLeaders Media, 6 Apr. 2020, www.healthleadersmedia.com/strategy/healthcare-workers-who-are-losing-their-jobs.

Tarleton, John. “Cuban-Trained Doctor Helps Mobilize Pandemic Response in Her South Bronx Community.” The Indypendent, 11 Apr. 2020, indypendent.org/2020/04/cuban-trained-doctor-helps-mobilize-pandemic-response-in-her-south-bronx-community/?fbclid=IwAR11EIcEbLTycgRqQWbLIlTD9kqXdEEtL4wp77tHbFVNbJ42UWDks56rqvs.

World Health Organization. “Coronavirus.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2020, www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1.

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