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How You Can Support Healthcare Workers During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Nurse holding personal protection equipment; gloves, masks, and safety glasses.
Sherry Yates Young/123RF.com

This is an unprecedented time in our country. Covid-19 seems to have come out of nowhere and is spreading rapidly. While many are quarantined to their homes and working remotely, healthcare staff and supportive services have no choice but to work in the field. Long hours, a severe shortage of protective equipment, and high risk of infection have healthcare workers stressed and those quarantined to their homes wondering what they can do to help. For those wanting to show support, the following is a comprehensive list of ways to help during this challenging time:

 

  1. STAY HOME. Following the quarantine recommendations is the #1 thing you can do to help healthcare workers and our nation as a whole. Practicing social distancing slows the spread of the virus, therefore sending less patients to the hospital at once. While healthcare providers wait for PPE (personal protective equipment) deliveries and try to stay on top of current patient needs, it is important that others slow the spread!
  2. BE KIND. This may sound obvious, but this is the time to be KIND to healthcare providers. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure and are doing everything they can to send your loved ones back home. While they expect to receive a lot of phone calls from family who want updates, it’s important when you call to be brief and most of all, to be kind. This is a frustrating time for everyone involved, and we all need to remember that we are in this together. Simply being pleasant and saying “Thank you” over the phone can really make a difference in the day of a nurse or doctor. 
  3. CHECK ON THOSE WHO CAN’T CARE FOR THEMSELVES. The elderly, disabled, and financially challenged population may have a very difficult time right now. If a healthcare provider is their primary means of transportation, assistance, and care, they may be on their own at a time when even less resources are available. If you know a healthcare provider who assists someone, offer to step up during this time to be sure that person has groceries, healthcare, and any other needs they may have. 
  4. DONATE MASKS. Do you have N-95 masks that you haven’t used? Maybe you are a woodworker who has a stock in your garage? Or maybe you have an “end of the world” stash in your basement that you could part with? As long as they are un-used, your masks could save lives! A wonderful new website called Mask Match has popped up to match up healthcare workers in need with those who want to donate. Fill in your location and easily use the online program to get your masks shipped to those who need them the most!
  5. SEW MASKS. Can you sew? In a time where healthcare providers are working without masks, many are welcoming homemade fabric masks as an alternative. You can find many patterns online including some with pockets for insertion of different types of filters. If you live near a Joann Fabrics store, you may call ahead and they will pre-cut the fabric for you and deliver it right to your car. Afterwards, you can drop the masks off at Joann Fabrics for delivery to hospitals. 
  6. PROVIDE PET CARE. With healthcare providers being forced into working long hours, many of their pets are left home alone. Supporting the pets of our healthcare workers takes a load off of their shoulders so they can focus on the job at hand. Can you walk a neighbor’s dog while they’re away? Can you offer to house a pet temporarily? Can you offer to drop a pet at daycare and pick it up (many doggie daycare sites are offering curbside drop off and pick up) since healthcare workers have odd hours? Offer support if you can, and be sure to maintain clean techniques if you’ll be entering the home of someone else to assist their pet (wash your hands before and after, don’t touch your face, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, stay away if you are sick). 
  7. SEND MEALS. Healthcare workers are notorious for missing meals during their time at work. Between being excruciatingly busy, and not wanting to eat between patients and before showering, they just go hungry. By the time they get home and shower, they often just want to hit the hay! If you’re a great cook, you can deliver meals (porch pickup style) for healthcare providers and their families. Cooking not your thing? Many meal delivery services are still up and running. Door Dash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and Carryout Courier will deliver meals directly from restaurants at this time. 
  8. SEND GROCERIES. Healthcare workers are working a tremendous amount of hours. By the time they get a chance to shop for groceries and personal care items, the shelves are often empty. While you need to maintain your quarantine status as much as possible, helping healthcare providers with groceries would be an amazing blessing to them! Some grocery delivery services such as Shipt, Peapod, and Instacart continue to operate. If grocery delivery isn’t your style, offer to do shopping for someone else while you’re at the store for yourself. Beware: Avoid making multiple store trips however, as this increases risk of spread
  9. SEND SPA/ENTERTAINMENT GIFT CARDS. What does the healthcare provider in your life enjoy? Coffee? A nice day at the spa? A massage? A new hairdo? A day at the races? Movies? During this difficult economical time, gift cards are a great way to support businesses in your community while showing love to your healthcare providers. If you are in the position to do so, sending a gift card shows you care and gives others something to look forward to. Note: Be sure to buy gift cards online, over the phone, or during your normal grocery store trip. Making extra trips out can lead to additional risk of spreading the virus.
  10. RECOGNIZE AMAZING NURSES. The Daisy Award Program recognizes nurses who have gone above and beyond. If you have encountered a nurse who has done an extraordinary job, contact the Daisy Award Program to recognize his or her work! 
  11. JOIN #SOLIDARITYAT8. A new movement called #SolidarityAt8 is asking Americans to go outside onto their porches each evening at 8 PM and make lots of noise in a show of support for healthcare workers on the frontlines right now. This wonderful movement shows that even when we are all quarantined to our homes, we can still come together. CAUTION: Some healthcare workers sleep at this time. If one in your neighborhood sleeps at that time, pass the info to neighbors and consider a silent clap at that time. Take a video of all your neighbors doing the silent clap and share via social media or text with your local healthcare worker during their awake hours. 
  12. JOIN HEARTS FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS. A Facebook group called “Hearts for Healthcare Workers” encourages families to place hearts in their windows in a show of support for healthcare workers. While nurses, doctors and CNA’s drive home, they can see the support all around them. This is a wonderful two-fold way of showing support since children of healthcare workers love to count the hearts for fun!
  13. GIVE BLOOD. With blood drives shut down as part of the quarantine, blood supplies are dwindling. The Red Cross needs a continuous supply of blood, even during this time. While they aren’t holding their typical drives, you can still make an appointment to donate. Visit their website to see if you’re a candidate, or call 1 (800) 733-2767 for more information.
  14. SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT. Whether through social media, e-cards, texts, or telephone calls, be sure to let the essential workers in your life know that you love and support them. Don’t know anyone specifically? Placing messages of encouragement in the window of your home or vehicle can send the message too! While they know you can’t take away their stress, it’s helpful to know that the world is behind them. Caution: This is not the time to send physical cards and letters. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 virus can live on surfaces and sending these materials through the mail can do more harm than good

While our nation walks through this difficult time, it’s wonderful to know that there is such love and support behind those of us who continue to work with patients. We are eternally grateful, and even if you are unable to give something physically, it’s amazing to know that you’re thinking of us! Please, please take care of yourselves and do everything you can to help prevent the spread of this nasty virus (wash your hands, limit exposure to others, cover your cough/sneeze with your elbow or a tissue) while we do everything we can to help those who are sick. We will all get through this together and will come out stronger on the other side!

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About Tammy McKinney, RN

Tammy McKinney is a Registered Nurse from Pennsylvania. After earning her Business Administration degree, she went on to earn her degree in nursing from Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. With a background in Infectious Disease Nursing, Agency Nursing, and Hospice Care she enjoys sharing her experiences through her writing.

With years of experience in article creation, copy writing and editing, and marketing, Tammy’s freelance career began long before she became a nurse. She continues her work in these areas with a focus on medical writing in an effort to positively inform and impact the nursing community.

Connect with Tammy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tammy-mckinney-097982191/.