I stared—5:33 PM.
My day some 34 hours earlier. I walked in, and the crisis swarmed the room. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was required in New York, then New Jersey, then New Orleans, then all over. Ventilators were in such high demand that a coworker said she’d sell her soul to the devil.
“Think about that,” I said matter of factly.
“I did,” she muttered.
As she finished, our alliance of State Pharmacies indicated medicines to alleviate breathing difficulty, relieve pain, and sedate coronavirus patients were in high demand. That meant stock was depleting.
Compound that with President Trump. Trump’s comments pushing an unverified Coronavirus treatment of Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine created shortages. Trump urged the FDA to speed up the off-label use of the drugs for COVID-19 but created hoarding.
“We need supplies,” a New Orleans nurse told us.
“I cannot locate any for you, but I will continue to try,” I spoke into the conference room phone.
An eerie pause, “I have worked four days, sleeping a few hours in my car.”
Another eerie pause. “I cried every day.”
A third eerie pause. Tears of grief briefly filled our conference room speaker. A momentary ruffle, “Pull it together,” she appeared to whisper to herself.
“Ok. Thanks for helping,” she sighed. Click. Dial tone.
I didn’t help at all. All we said was that she and her coworkers stand alone.
Those of us in the room are technically listed as ‘support.’ However, it’s the health care workers who must go out to those in need are paying an even higher price, in terms of their emotional health. They expose themselves to the risk. Work nonstop. They’re unsure if they have Coronavirus. However, they carry on. And I can’t help them. It’s insane.
Driving home, I kept thinking of the two occasions when the United States declared itself to be under attack: Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Coronavirus is the third. While Trump has spent his time bragging about his “terrific” response to the crisis, there’s an uneasy feeling American is on a rudderless ship adrift in high seas. Governor Cuomo once said, “We have to fight with what we have.” To that nurse in New Orleans and others like her, you’re the best we have.