Yesterday I cried in the shower, today I’m feeling okay. If you are at a loss for how to support nurses and other healthcare workers right now, I’ve got you covered.
Our healthcare community is bleeding, they are mentally and physically bruised, caring for critically ill patients in conditions we never thought we would see in America. Some of us, like me, are sheltering behind the front lines and feel utterly inadequate in our ability to offer support.
None of this is fair.
I left the ER three years ago for a job doing chart reviews from my couch. I couldn’t be safer and I should be grateful. Instead, I’m tingling with anticipation and anxiety all while watching too much national TV.
If I’m needed, I’ll be back at the bedside, because that’s what we do. When all is going to hell we jump back in to help our friends.
Nurses, physicians, students, and everyone else in healthcare did not sign up to fight a pandemic with subpar safety measures. But it’s what many of my friends and family are showing up to do day after day, not because they set out to be heroes, because it’s their job.
We will get through this but I’m struggling with how to support my friends in healthcare while safely sitting back and completing my duties as a keyboard warrior.
I can’t give them masks that I don’t have and I can’t convince an entire nation of people to stay home (although I think they’re starting to get it) but I can start by supporting one individual at a time.
The more I thought and asked, the more ideas surfaced that can help make this time a little less shitty for my friends. So here are a few ideas and if some of them seem trivial — it’s because they are — but I firmly believe small gestures matter right now.
Check-in with your friends who work in healthcare
“Thank you to all my. sweet friends who. have reached out to me to check on me! I appreciate the kind words and your appreciation! I became a nurse to help others and I LOVE what I do. It’s been a rough few weeks and I know it’s going to get crazier before it gets better, so again, thank you for all your messages, 💗 and support.”
If you stop to wonder or think about a friend, send them a text or call them. If I’m lonely right now, my friends are probably lonely too. Just send a text and say hi. It’s not what you say, it’s the connection that matters.
Support Nurses by Sending Food
Nurses prefer donuts over bagels
Who knew? If you’re thinking of lifting the spirits of some very stressed healthcare workers, consider having food delivered to their units. Carbs make us happy and it turns out in the round food battle donuts win over bagels.
In a very informal and highly biased survey on Instagram, the Nurse Fern audience voted for sugary fried dough over its slightly savory counterpart.
Some food thoughts and ideas
- No messy finger food — no one is touching their face let alone licking their fingers
- Easy to grab items like individually wrapped burritos — staff can hold their food by the wrapper protecting it from contamination and it hasn’t been sitting out all day in the lounge uncovered.
- Go for the carbs — Our peeps are out there running nonstop. Now is not the time to go vegan or plant-based. A well-rounded meal will serve best and get you invited back during the good times.
- Call before you order — Numerous restaurants are stepping up which can lead to (dare I say it?) too much food in the breakroom. Call the hospital and coordinate a day/time so you aren’t overwhelming a department with sustenance.
If you send donuts (or literally anything else that is edible, we’re garbage disposals), you’ll also be supporting a local business that desperately wants to survive this pandemic.
Starbucks supporting frontline responders
Starbucks is giving free tall iced or hot coffee to frontline COVID-19 responders through May 3rd. They are also donating money to Direct Relief and Operation Gratitude to get healthcare workers PPE and care packages. (More on Direct Relief below)
Donate to a local coffee house or restaurant fund supporting COVID-19 responders
Your local coffee shop and restaurant may be donating coffee and food to hospitals and front-line workers. You can ask if they have a fund so you can help subsidize this cost for them.
Drop groceries off at a nurse or healthcare workers door
Do you enjoy going to the grocery store right now? Probably not. You’re worried you’ll catch the virus from an asymptomatic individual who either sucks at or was a poor victim of crappy social distancing.
Now imagine you just got off work, you’re hungry, but you skip the grocery store because you’re worried you are petri dish of contagion. Can you imagine leaving an office job and worrying you’ll kill someone if you go grocery shopping on the way home?
Support nurses by dropping essentials at their door so they don’t have to have a moral battle over buying bananas. This doesn’t have to be a crazy incognito doorbell ditch mission, in fact, it’ll be more effective if you text your neighbor/friend/family member and tell them you are headed to the store (or entering an online order) and you want their grocery list.
Donate extra masks, gloves, or sanitizing supplies
If you have spare essentials consider donating them to a local hospital, nursing home, or another healthcare facility that may be running low. Call them first! Make sure this is a needed item they are willing to accept. Even in dire circumstances, some facilities have policies that limit what donated items they can accept. Medical supplies and safety equipment needs to meet OSHA requirements.
At this point, most hospitals have created donation sites so the community can make easy drop-offs. If you don’t know who may be in need try posting in a local Facebook group (or calling your main hospital line) almost certainly someone will know where to point you.
Here is a list of a few industries that have been key in donating PPE
- Tattoo and permanent make up artists
Community members are also coming out of the woodwork to donate masks they previously purchased to protect them during wildfires or illnesses.
Every mask counts.
Donate to Direct Relief
Don’t have supplies to donate? That’s okay, you can give money directly to organizations that are helping supply PPE.
I stumbled upon Direct Relief while attending the University of California, Santa Barbara and have followed their relief efforts since.
Direct Relief is an incredible organization that helps distribute critical supplies during times of disaster. They are currently working tirelessly to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and other needed supplies in the hands of our healthcare workers. Click here to donate.
If you do nothing else (and you have the option) stay home! It’s that simple. Watch a movie, knit, read a book, Netflix and chill, learn a new skill, cook a feast, run around naked, rearrange your sock drawer… we really don’t care what you do as long as you stay in your house and wash your hands.
And if you want to text a healthcare friend but didn’t because you weren’t sure what to say, text them that you chose to stay home. That is the best message we can get right now (only to be rivaled by a donut delivery text).
These are just a few ways you can support nurses and others in healthcare right now. I don’t know about you, but I think about my sister and brother-in-law in emergency medicine all day every day hoping they have the arsenal they need to protect themselves and the rest of us. I’ve had Facebook and text message conversations with nurses I haven’t spoken with in years, simply checking in. While I will do more if I’m asked, it helps me to know I’m able to do something right now. And I think that’s what most of us are struggling with, we want to do something to help.
What other ideas do you have? Leave a comment below.
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