Today many of the people I work with at the hospital volunteered to go and work at one of the long term care facilities with the most COVID-19 cases.
They were resolute about their decisions, determined:
“I have a moral and ethical obligation to do this.”
“People put their lives on the line for my Mom and Dad in the residence where they lived. I have to do this.”
“These people could die – I couldn’t live with that.”
Nurses, managers, directors, orderlies all signed up, volunteered. There were more volunteers than could go, all from mental health. They are going to do this difficult work even though they know that they could become sick themselves. They are going to do this difficult work even though they know that our work in mental health has not even started and that they won’t get a rest when their work in long term care is over. They will be coming back to the COVID-19 mental health pandemic.
I listened to these amazing, inspiring health workers. I wondered: Do the owners of long term care homes or the government even realize what we are asking these highly trained professionals to do? Do the owners and the government realize what these people are sacrificing? What their families are sacrificing?
I find myself worried that the good will and devotion of health care workers will be exploited. That has already happened when health care workers’ devotion to care runs head first into our governments’ and owners’ lack of preparation. They work without assistance. They work without personal protective equipment. They act on their sense of duty.
We have found out, in every corner of the world, that doctors, nurses, personal support workers, every provider will work unprotected and unassisted rather than risk a patient dying – rather than risk your loved one dying.
I already have a role where I am needed, but I pledged my colleagues that I will be in touch with my elected officials. I will not let any of these officials forget that my colleagues didn’t hesitate to help.
I will not hesitate to do everything I can to keep their good will and devotion from being exploited by governments and owners. Every health care worker understands and lives by their sense of duty.
Governments and owners must also.
Please help with this – remind your representatives, remind owners that they too have a duty of care!