Headlining today is the highest rate of flu hospitalizations in 15 years; including, an alarming number of deaths in children with the flu of whom only 20% received the vaccine. Hospitals are responding with innovative surge plans that include tents, mobile clinics and drive-up flu shot stations. This is a national outbreak, already claiming more lives than the deadliest gun-related incidents and weather-related disasters. Missing in the news are stories of the real first responders who are rushing to care for these patients, while risking the health and safety of themselves and their families.
These responders, don’t just go when the siren sounds or when big headlines hit the news; they go into personal danger EVERY single day! This is not a description of the police, firefighters, and paramedics of whom we are so proud. I am talking about our own nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, leaders, and environmental services workers who will risk exposure and illness, sacrifice time at home, and change their priorities to staff our hospitals today and every day. While the census may go down, the doors never close and risks are always present in the form of illnesses, accidents, and even violent attacks by patients and visitors. When beds are full, it takes nurses 24/7 to care for those patients. Despite vigilance in vaccinating nursing staff members, they also acquire the flu out in the community and might take 7-10 days to get over it; some may become hospitalized themselves. Nursing leaders are filling in schedule holes, working clinical shifts, and scrambling to find the equipment and supplies that are needed to care for these additional patients and their families. Alongside the professional staff, stands an army of EVS workers also working around the clock to stay ahead of the cleaning and disinfection needed to protect the next patient to occupy the bed, and prevent further spread of this deadly disease.
In 2014, the entire nation mobilized to prepare for an Ebola outbreak, which thankfully resulted in a handful of actual cases and deaths. The media was quick to judge and sensationalize the human stories. But today, let’s all pause to salute the Flu Responders of 2018! I challenge the media to learn about the everyday heroes whose life work and calling are to be there.
I am proud to be a nurse, and to know leaders, nurses and other hospital workers personally.
From all of us at Nobl Health, thank you for your dedication, expertise, compassion, and stamina!
Blog written by Dr.Teresa Anderson, EdD, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Nobl