A week ago on March 11th, 2020, at least in the USA, the world seemed to completely change overnight.
I’d been quite aware of the coronavirus epidemic that swept through China and was now raging in Iran and Italy. I’d noted the headlines with some concern and even started to pay attention to warnings that the United States was next.
I’d noted the cases popping up in the Pacific Northwest, and I’d watched the press conferences.
But everything got really real when school districts began shutting down. And the NBA canceled its season. And the NCAA canceled “March Madness.”
Since then, bars and restaurants have been shut down. Grocery stores are wiped out of stock, especially toilet paper, milk, meat and staple items. Everyone who can work at home is being asked to do so.
Even our beloved Kentucky Derby and all the festivities that surround it have been postponed until later in the year.
The goal of all these shutdowns is to keep one thing up and running as effectively and efficiently as possible: our healthcare system. We are collectively trying to “flatten the curve,” to delay the spread of coronavirus enough so that our hospitals can remain open to treat those who need it most.
So while the rest of us retreat to our homes, healthcare workers are showing up at work and preparing to show up for as long as it takes.
It takes moxie to risk your own health to preserve the health of a nation, and our doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers have it. Here’s how:
Moxie runs to help.
In times of trouble, this quote from Mr. Rogers always seems to make the rounds: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would always say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Tom Hanks, who recently played Mr. Rogers in the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, even made a subtle allusion to the famous quote in a tweet he sent from Australia, where he is in quarantine recovering from coronavirus.
Indeed, helpers have already made their way to hot spots, and more are queuing up to assist when the time comes.
“I feel like it’s the duty of any free and available medical worker to answer the call of the nation in a crisis,” Danny Durazo, radiologic technologist told KUOW. Durazo lives in California but traveled to Washington state to assist when coronavirus started to take root there.
Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers are at greater risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their work. Limited protective gear and testing are also making their risk higher and their jobs harder, and the social, spiritual and psychological toll adds an even greater burden.
Yet, they are still showing up to help. That takes moxie.
Moxie makes sacrifices.
Healthcare workers choose to put themselves in harms’ way for the sake of protecting others, but they also must take extraordinary precautions to protect the ones they love the most. Many are isolating themselves from friends and family while this outbreak is ongoing. It’s daunting when you consider this crisis could stretch on for weeks or even months.
It’s impossible not to draw comparisons between soldiers heading off into battle. The key difference is that the enemy, in this case, is a tiny virus, and healthcare workers could unwittingly bring that enemy into their own homes to threaten their families. Kudos to the families who are sacrificing and risking so much right now.
Not only do healthcare workers have moxie, but their families do too.
Moxie can’t do it alone.
Healthcare workers can only do so much. They can only help people who have already gotten sick. It’s up to the rest of us to lighten their load as much as possible. How?
Stay home. It’s that simple. It’s a little easier now that bars and restaurants are closed, but it’s still tempting to just have a small get together with friends or linger at the store. Don’t. Practice social distancing as much as possible. Keep at least six feet away from others at all times.
Wash your hands. This can’t be said enough. Simple handwashing is the key to preventing many infections, including coronavirus.
Don’t hoard supplies. Healthcare workers are having trouble getting the safety equipment they desperately need because others have already bought them up for their own use. Civilians don’t need face masks nearly as much as healthcare workers do.
Healthcare workers chime in: what do you need from the rest of us?