Caring for Healthcare Workers
"I work in healthcare as a nurse aide and I also care for my children, my father and my spouse. I’m wondering if social distancing is enough to protect my loved ones. I haven’t had a patient with the virus, and my employer is doing their best. (No visitors are allowed and the residents are screened every day.) So far I feel safe, but I am concerned for my family. Do you have any advice?"
First, thank you for taking care of those in need, especially during this challenging time. Healthcare workers are on the front lines right now and doing the work that needs to be done. I cannot thank you enough.
Here are some reasonable steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:
- Listen very, very closely to the instructions provided by your organization.
- Ask questions if you don’t understand.
- Follow their protocols exactly, with no shortcuts—even if it takes longer, is uncomfortable, or you don’t agree. They employ infection control experts or are taking advice from the CDC.
- When arriving home, strip your clothing and roll it into a ball to carry to the washing machine. Wash your work clothes in the warmest setting you can, and dry the same way.
- Shower, including soaping your face, hands and entire body, before you interact with your family or prepare meals.
- Monitor your temperature every morning or evening. Be alert for any coughing, which is often the first symptom.
- Report any symptoms of illness to your employer.
- If you’re healthy and symptom-free, continue to care for your children as normal, while continuing to follow the above instructions.
- Practice social distancing from the elderly as a precaution. Stay away if you can. While you may be symptom-free, you are on the front lines right now. Ask other family members to be the primary face-to-face contact with the elderly. Work out a trade of duties with other family so you are not in close contact with your father.
- Do what you can to boost your immune system now. Sleep eight hours at night, eat healthy foods, exercise and manage stress.
- Ask your spouse and children to support you. Explain why it is so important for you to take extra care of yourself. We can all help each other right now, so lean a little bit on your family for a change.
You have a big virtual hug from me for the work you’re doing. Stay the course, follow instructions carefully and seek support from family.
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