It is 30 Minutes in the Life, and if you are wondering, my 30 Minutes was not at the beach. Since March 13, I feel like I have been on a 25 hour call. Why? My real job is working with Policies & Procedures, Written Plans, Quality Control, training, and such other things that may be assigned, for Medical Clinics. And yes, we are most definitely impacted by the changes the world is seeing.
I am tired, but so are many others. This 30 Minutes I wanted to look at the contrast in life – what does that look like, and where do we go from here.
For so long life has been kind of rosy. The last Flu pandemic, according to the CDC, was in 1918. Almost 100 years ago. I feel like we have become complacent and unprepared. I understand, we do not want thousands of ventilators sitting around for 100 years. However, it feels like society has been slow to respond to what is going on around us.
On any given day, our lives are sunny and rosy and off to the beach we go. All these image are taken at Orchard Beach in Maine.
But we don’t know what lurks around the corner. China was slow to get the news out that things had turned dark, and that they were struggling with something that was rapidly becoming beyond their control. Limited information came out until the situation be came so dire that they were overwhelmed with what they are dealing with.
The rest of the world carried on as normal, enjoying life, living what essentially is part of the social norm. We head out to restaurants, we go to the beach, we cluster as folks are often want to do.
It was only when Italy started to show signs of panic that the rest of the world opened up their eyes and started to take notice. And when Italy’s days became bleak, finally the rest of the world sat up and said perhaps we should do something about it. The information I kept reading seemed unbelievable and disturbing.
But the world was slow in responding, we carried on as normal. Around mid March, our offices, began to look at the what if, and a meeting was called to plan for the what if. What if we have to shut down, do we have a pandemic plan in place, do we have policies and procedures in place? Do we have a pandemic plan? Can you draft up one? Beyond that what does it look like to have staff working from home? What does it look like to run medical clinics on limited staff? Can we go virtual? I am grateful that our office was forward thinking and we began to seriously plan for the potential future.
As the devastating news came out of Italy and the numbers began to increase, and the horror of living with a pandemic really looks like when you are not prepared for the impact of it, begins to seep in. What hospitals look like when they are overcrowded. When people are sleeping on the floor because there is no beds for them. What medical staff have to endure when they are working 24 hours on call and they are watching, not only 1 or 2, but thousands of people dying. When morgues and crematoriums cannot keep up with the death rate. When churches start to store the coffins and the bodies lie waiting for when their loved ones can bury them. When medical personnel are required to choose who can live or die. My heart breaks. It breaks for each and every person fighting for the life of someone who may die, or more than likely will die. My heart aches for the medical staff’s family, who do not know if they will see their loved one again. Children who cannot see their parents.
And yet here in the USA it is business as usual. While leaders indicate that there is a problem, it does not appear that they are ready to make some hard choices. Spring breakers still hit the beaches in Florida because it is their right to do so, forcing the state to close parks and beaches. Restaurants are shut down except for take out. I worry about the possibility of workers being contagious. People head out on the Intracoastal on their boats, with little regard for the potential that they may be carriers. It is their right, and besides it does not appear that their age group is not dying, although stats coming in show that the virus is moving across age groups. They may not be dying, they are right, but they may be killing their grandparents, or parents.
The USA is slow on the uptake. It seemed that it was viewed more as a hoax and then as something we would be over soon. March 20, the numbers were around 8500 people who were tested positive for the virus. While I understand that there was limited testing in the early days, and a scrambling for the necessary equipment and testing kits, over the past 10 days the numbers have escalated to 105, 470 (as I am writing this). The death toll is 1590. This is no longer a joke or something that will die down in a few days. We no longer have control of the virus. The situation is bleak. Working from home is not what folks may think it is. Working from home, for me, this past 12 days has felt like a 25 hour day – 7 days a week right now. It is learning new technology so that we can still meet the client where they are at, that we can still be of service. Virtual is the new normal!
The days ahead seem surreal. Cities are slow to shut down. Government is worried about economy. I understand, but I have to wonder what the economy will look like 24 months from now if a stand is not taken now. I am praying for a nation wide shut down. Life to freeze in all aspects, so that this situation can be controlled. We don’t want to be China. We don’t want to be Italy, where the death toll went from 9134 to 10 779 men, women and children in less than 24 hours. We don’t want to be Spain where they are having to make decision on who lives and who dies. Where they are using scuba diving equipment just to help people breathe. Where they are storing bodies in an ice rink just to protect the bodies from decaying and smelling.
Life has become a roller coaster. We are on a fast ride, and we don’t know when it is going to stop. We need to face reality that unless something significant is done by all States at the same time, nothing is going to change. Right now I live in a State and in an area where “snowbirds” are a huge part of our lives. In winter they are in our county and in summer they head up north. A lot of them to New York. I cannot blame them for wanting to flee New York. That would be my first instinct as well. But I live here and I have to wonder what that will bring to South Florida. A community made up of a lot of elderly folk. Already Miami is under curfew, Broward county is under stay at home, Boca Raton, is under stay at home, and Palm Beach County has implemented some mandates as well. We have to start making some really hard decisions at a much higher level than me. All I can do, is do my part.
We can be part of the pack, or if we are able, we can stay at home, isolate from the crowd. We can protect our families and friends, and we can ease the burden that our medical system is going to have to deal with. Friends remember to take these items into account:
If you have please, please you need to consider quarantining yourself
Wash your hands, well, use hand sanitizer if you have it. If you go to the shop, take your sanitizer with you and clean the cart. Be aware of what you are touching, the people you are interacting with, people who may be coughing and sneezing around you. Protect yourself, protect your family.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay sane, don’t be like me, having major conversations with the TV, and watching my blood pressure rise.