To borrow from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, writer of Love in the Time of Cholera:
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
Every day, with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are obliged to reassess, reevaluate and redetermine how to manage and minimize the effects of the current virus using our best defenses. Every day, those defenses change and evolve.
Two weeks ago we were told that cloth masks were worse than no mask at all.
Today we learn that cloth masks are better than nothing.
Two weeks ago we were advised to eliminate all contact between nursing home residents, eliminating group activities and group dining.
Today we know that group dining is OK as long as there is a 6-foot distance between the diners.
There was a time when it was considered anathema to reuse PPE. Now we’re advised to reuse them as long as they’re unsoiled.
A month ago we were told that COVID-19 tests would be readily available in tents in the parking lot of your neighborhood drug store. Still waiting for that one.
This is what we know. This is what we’re certain of: This will pass. It will take time, but it will pass. Our job is to ensure the health and safety of our staff, our facilities, ourselves and those in our vulnerable population of elderly and sick. They are the ones who will struggle the most and may not survive the temporary scourge (which at this point doesn’t feel temporary.)
Sr. Marquez also advises this bit of wisdom: “Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.”
It is up to us to ensure that wisdom comes to us now. “Giving birth” to ourselves over and over again is the only means of adapting and ensuring the safety of those who we’re charged to keep healthy. If we know one thing about healthcare workers, it’s that we are infinitely adaptable to change. And that change is happening every day.