Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

As an educator, I always let the audience know that I like questions to flow freely. That there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

But now I have to take that back.

Not that any stupid question has ever come from any lecture or class I taught. Those are, honestly, usually very thoughtful. But have you seen some of these questions about “How did COVID get into long-term care facilities?” Or “How did COVID spread once it got into long-term care facilities?” And, “Can we form a task force to get these questions answered on how horrible nursing homes are?” (Oh wait, you already did.) And “Can we impose more survey penalties on nursing homes that are hemorrhaging money on PPE, extra pay and more?” (Oh wait, you are.)

Seriously? That’s as bad as these nuts who post questions about, “What kind of snake is this?” on social media. Who has  hours to wait for a reply as to whether that snake happened to be poisonous? (“I’ll just sit here and keep an eye on this snake till someone gets back to me!”)

Come on, we aren’t letting our residents go out of the building unless medically necessary. We are not allowing in visitors or even vendors. We screen anyone (including surveyors and first responders) who come in the door. But we don’t lock down the staff because they don’t live in our facilities. They have to get groceries; they have families who may also work outside of the home, etc. While taking every precaution, they may get exposed to this highly contagious virus. And, duh, we can’t do without staff!

So, while we screen our staff every day (and now are PCR testing on a regular basis), we know the virus spreads more virulently when someone is asymptomatic. Which means they will not show positive on a PCR test while they may be shedding virus. We have everyone in surgical or N95 masks, but that isn’t 100% foolproof. And our population, as all know, is the most vulnerable. And while most are protecting the bubble, once the virus gets in, it has probably spread before symptoms show. 

And in the beginning, when we could not get PPE, when we ordered it but local government diverted it to hospitals because they “needed it more” than we did, when FEMA finally sent us 30 days’ worth of PPE and it turned out to be stuff like expired gloves, cloth face masks, and garbage bag like “gowns,” it burns our cookies that the public makes us out to be villains. Like worse than puppy-skinning Cruella de Vils. Yeah, that bad!

So, yes, there are some bad apples. There are in every single industry in America. But most of us put our lives on the line wearing those cloth masks in the beginning to take care of the people we love. So instead of the crazy questions, how about some positivity? Or is that a stupid of a question?

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.