At this delicate time of history, we are experiencing one of the most severe pandemics ever: COVID-19. It’s a test of how our healthcare system will handle the impact of a serious pandemic.

So far, we are not doing a great job.

The lack of equipment, education, response, and protocols are all pointing to the fact we were not ready for something like this. The number of cases and deaths are alarming as it is. However, some people are still lacking the awareness and realization of how serious this virus is. It’s not just the flu; it’s much more serious than that and much more complicated. And that is an understatement. The mortality of this virus and the virulence is incredible. So, I encourage everyone to please stay home, to protect others, yourself, and your family. The more people stay home, the sooner this pandemic will be over. I assure everyone that it’s worth the wait!

As a hospice nurse, it is devastating to see that a lot of families are not allowed to visit some of the places in which their loved ones are living while they are dying or have a limited amount of time. But for the safety of others, everyone has the responsibility to self-quarantine. This is where technology comes into play and will benefit the entire population. I have had patient and family FaceTime to see each other; it’s a very tough time, but everyone is working together and sacrificing something. However, it will be worth it when this dark cloud is behind us and the rain has left us, and the new development of vaccines and technology has arrived. The incredible strength of humanity and the love and care that’s spreading even faster will benefit us all – and for ages.

We as healthcare workers are blessed to be able to spend time with the patients at this time, and just to hold their hands and tell them someone is there. For those who are able to see their families, just keep in mind how precious that time is.

The experience of death and dying is different now, and greatly impacted by this pandemic. And it’s more essential than ever for healthcare workers to play the role of a warm, loving family and caring – while still being a healing healthcare worker. As I care for a unique population – they are vulnerable, immunocompromised, and with terminal conditions and co-morbidities – the virus will prove more harmful, and often, even fatal. We are even more careful when caring for them and protecting them from this.

We are working as hard as we can to limit exposure, to cut down the number of infections and deaths, but also to care for the ones who have been diagnosed with the virus, knowing that those are lives and families who will never be the same again, not just cold statistics and data. Any number greater than zero is heartbreaking, especially from something like this. 100,000 deaths are not acceptable, in the eyes of any healthcare worker, as we put ourselves on the frontline for the sole purpose of saving lives. We may not succeed every time, but we are not afraid to try our best every time.

About the Author: “Abigail,” not her real name, is a hospice nurse working in San Diego County.

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