Healthcare professionals across the United States continually face extreme circumstances while working on the front lines to fight the virus. This issue has affected Southern students and faculty with healthcare workers in their families as well.
For many, direct exposure to the virus brings added stress to life at home. Healthcare workers have had to take extra precautions to keep their family members safe.
“My husband is a nurse practitioner and works at a family office,” nursing professor Kerry Allen said. “He wears a mask when he is at home and conforms to social distancing from our family. He has also been keeping a distance by living in the basement.”
The issue becomes even more prevalent when there are family members who are more susceptible to catching the virus.
“Providing for a household with a newborn grandson, and a daughter who has Crohn’s during the outbreak of COVID has been stressful for my mother, who is a nurse,” said Alexis Lavertue, senior mass communication advertising major. “Because we have a newborn in the house, my nephew, there is added stress about bringing germs in from outside. My family is very wary of who we let come into the house, and where we go when we leave.”
Beyond the worries of health, many healthcare professionals have faced financial struggles as well.
“The reduction in my mom’s work hours has caused our family financial stress and has forced my mom to find other means of income as a travel nurse,” Lavertue said. “The thought of my mother working in a local hospital wasn’t as threatening as the thought of her traveling to a different state for work.
“When she first applied for the travel nursing position, they wanted to send her to New York City, New Orleans, or other locations saturated with COVID,” she continued. “Although she declined those offers and settled with one in North Carolina, it is stressful knowing she’ll be out on the front lines, still fighting for her family, but now much further away.”
The University Health Center (UHC) also had to make changes due to the pandemic and has adapted to a telehealth approach to meet students’ needs.
“At this time, we are not seeing patients in the clinic anymore – with few exceptions for immunizations, allergy shots, etc,” said Michelle Mix, nurse practitioner for the UHC. “While we miss the students and are looking forward to returning to our normal healthcare model, this new telehealth capability means we are able to reach students who have returned home and continue to provide continuity of care which is invaluable in the treatment of chronic conditions.”
“It is a blessing to be able to help students across the country through this difficult time,” Mix continued. “While we are still working full days, we are only present in the clinic from 8:00-12:00 daily and work from home 1:00-5:00. Students or staff needing assistance are still able to call or email and will be responded to promptly. This pandemic has been a scary and stressful experience for many of our students and staff, but we want everyone to know we are still here for you – even if you are far away!”
People who work in the medical field are at a higher risk to get the virus, making their lives more difficult and dangerous than for those in other professions.
“Remember that medical professionals are giving their lives and doing what they can, day after day, to help us overcome this pandemic,” Lavertue said. “Social distancing is important, but our voices travel, and saying thank you goes a long way. If you see someone in public wearing hospital scrubs, don’t shy away from them. Instead, give them a smile and thank them for their sacrifice. Don’t let fear deter you from being a bright light during this seemingly dark time.”