Southern California nurses fear spreading COVID-19 to their loved ones, while being on the frontlines of battling the pandemic. Every day they work with coronavirus patients is another day they put their families at risk.
Adeline Manese, a registered nurse at Kaiser Fontana, said, “When the pandemic first started, nurses were not allowed to wear masks unless necessary.” Manese stated that only nurses who were taking care of respiratory patients or performing sterile procedures were allowed access to masks, and they were prohibited from bringing protective equipment from home.
As the number of COVID-19 patients steadily increased, the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) was made readily available, and the use of such equipment was widely encouraged for all hospital employees.
Healthcare professionals are concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the virus. Celeste Bolanos, a nurse at Pomona Valley, said “Being prepared for something we have never experienced before is hard, that’s why people began to panic and were stressed out.”
With more research being done, hospitals are able to better inform and educate their staff regarding the virus and protecting themselves from infection.
In the beginning, nurses felt lost and completely unprepared to fight the pandemic because of the lack of information and support from the US government. They felt that policy makers were slow in taking action against COVID-19. They wondered why a stay-at-home order was enforced in some states but not others. Some, like Jean Teves, even questioned how our government was seemingly unprepared for such an event, when other pandemics had been present in our nation before.
“Even though it didn’t hit here first, the government should’ve taken extra precaution to prevent the spread. They should’ve planned a bigger budget when things like this hit. Instead of bringing politics and blame to how everything came to the about, the government should work together and resist creating other problems,” said Teves.
Another concern for our frontline workers is testing. They believe with more accessible testing, coronavirus can be spotted more quickly and contained.
“I would feel better if California was able to begin mass COVID-19 testing to all and if antibody testing was available to healthcare and essential workers. Antibody testing could detect who is immune to the virus and can safely go back to work,” said Manese.
Manese thinks the virus can further be prevented from spreading by knowing where “hot spots” of the virus are, and that method may be helpful to the nation as a whole. They hope the government, along with WHO and the CDC, can begin widespread distribution of testing as soon as possible.
With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, nurses fear the steady rise in numbers will bring more patients to their hospital beds. In turn, they will be continuing to put themselves and their families at risk. Despite this, the nurses remain hopeful that this will all end soon, that life will return to normal, and that their families will once again be safe. As a general consensus, the nurses have come to realize that all they can do is try their best to remain healthy and do their jobs to help those who are suffering.