We work in long-term care and we have COVID-19 patients. This is not news. Everyone who’s reading this can say the same. How are we handling it? We are all different.
It’s also not news that we don’t have enough personal protective equipment, we don’t have enough support, and that our directives change daily. Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, we are learning and adapting as we go, and adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines the day after they’re issued.
But there is other news: A lot of our friends think this is a joke. A lot of our family think this is a hoax to ruin the economy. A lot of our loved ones believe that the virus is an international “plandemic” devised to create confusion and strife. A lot of our friends and family really want to go to the mall and eat at their favorite restaurants. This litany of ill-advised nonsense derives from a population who has never faced significant inconvenience and don’t know anyone who has. They also can’t see a (nanoparticle) virus so it must not exist. No one they know is sick, so let’s go to the beach, right?
My mother is 87 years old. She lives alone, drives, is completely independent, has planned for an emergency and is living off the bounty of her pantry. She also lived through Nazi occupation for several years. She wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer that boils down to the following sentence, which is a recollection from her childhood in Greece:
Many days, when the Nazis are menacing us in the villages, we have to self-isolate so as to not be seen as a menace, to not to let them see that we are Americans (unable to return to the United States, once the war broke out). We have no communication with the outside world.
Our ability to contain our impulses and survive inconvenience does not outweigh our obligation to ensure the health and safety of our residents and our families. My mother complains that she hasn’t seen me in two months. But she understands that I can’t so much as see her through a window without compromising her health. This virus hangs in the air. She’s in danger if I go to the window and she goes outside later in the day. She calls her friends and tells them to stay home. She is in touch with each of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and-friends by phone. She gets it.
We all need to get it.
Here’s a link to her column: https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2020/04/memories-of-greece-1942-stirred-by-coronavirus-2020-tess-lekas.html.
Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, WCC, CKTP, CDP, TWD is the regional director of therapy operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.