As we enter a new year, it is important to reflect on the people who made a difference in the previous year. After COVID-19 took America by storm in March, the world changed as everyone knew it. Throughout these uncertain, unprecedented times, frontline healthcare workers stepped up and worked tirelessly every day to nurse thousands back to health.
Even though they have been a critical component in helping ameliorate the treatment of the virus, these healthcare workers risked their lives to go to work. Research from registerednursing.org shares that in some states, frontline healthcare workers account for as many as 26% of total COVID-19 cases. After saving millions this year, it is important to recognize the endless sacrifices that frontline healthcare workers made in 2020.
While reflecting on this year, one may realize that as COVID-19 struck America, they did not get enough recognition for how much they truly sacrificed to be on the frontlines. For example, many essential healthcare workers were completely isolated from others because they could not risk the chance of being infected with COVID and then passing it on to their patients or family. Due to this, many frontline healthcare workers had to follow strict shelter-in-place rules. More often than not, these rules meant that the hospital employees would not be able to see family, significant others, or friends. Moreover, frontline healthcare workers had to work long shifts with very little time off. A registered nurse from Connecticut told The Huffington Post that her hospital at one point was on “Code Orange.” This code means that the medical professionals at her hospital were mandated to stay at the hospital indefinitely.
A nationwide issue has been that many frontline healthcare workers are not receiving the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for a high-risk climate. The OSHA recommends that healthcare workers in an exposed environment should wear gloves, gowns, a face shield, goggles, and a certified disposable N95 mask. A preprint publication of a prospective cohort from two university hospitals in New Jersey shares that only half of the healthcare workers reported wearing PPE for all patient encounters. Unfortunately, that is the sad truth for thousands, if not millions of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is saddening to think that while the frontline healthcare workers are doing so much to help improve the health of millions, the cost of it all is immense. They work night and day to protect us, and now it is time to help them. There are simple ways that the general public can contribute to helping calm the spread. Do this by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and following local, state, and national COVID guidelines.
Although the pandemic has been around for close to a year now, staying safe is the most important action to take to help stop the spread of COVID-19. When the world has returned to normal, the brave and heroic acts of frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered and properly celebrated.