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  • Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Recent GRIT Article

See Our healthcare heroes article below, recently published by Grit

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By Karen M. McPhail, RN, MSN, CDP Managing Director, Eldementals, LLC

The majority of healthcare-related positions are held by women and nurses are often at the forefront of many public health challenges. As Covid-19 numbers have continued to rise globally, as a healthcare provider, I have growing concerns about how this virus is not only impacting those who require care, but also the large number of women, such as myself, who are being impacted daily while working in the field. I am a registered nurse and professional care manager specialising in dementia and geriatrics so have been immersed daily in the challenges presented by Covid-19. Over the years I have been involved in previous public health challenges, but I recognise that this one is different. We are now many months in, and yet still have so much to learn. There are still no vaccines or treatments approved thus far and inconsistent and sometimes contradictory guidelines are being issued. Patients are still in desperate need of assistance to navigate the complexities of care in an ever-changing healthcare environment where they are often met with difficult choices and obstacles along the way. I am constantly serving as an advocate to ensure not only that individuals receive timely access to care and treatment, but also that they have their wishes respected and heard along the way. No one should die alone and care should always, irrespective of the situation, be based on the expressed wishes of the patient. Healthcare providers should feel safe and have the supplies and necessary equipment on hand to provide effective care and then go home at the end of the day knowing they have done their best to support the patients they serve. I often wake up suddenly at night after a long day of challenges with visuals that I cannot shake, fearing that I will be unable to have all the answers for my patients or help them successfully navigate these challenges. The fear of transmission often creeps into my head. Even while following strict precautions, I worry that I will indeed bring Covid home to my family, including one child who has autoimmune issues. As a primary care giver, how will my family move on if I become infected? Who will help them navigate past this? As a clinician, I am always planning for the worst-case scenario so I began planning back in early February for my family, staff, and patients. I ensured that emergency plans were in place and developed Covid-specific plans of care for all my patients as a proactive precaution. As a result, many of my patients have thankfully been able to weather this storm. Uncertainty however has still hung on as cases still increase. All people, especially older adults, need to be able to feel safe to enable socialisation and to be part of their community. It is up to all of us as individuals to make a difference through our own personal actions, whether through reporting symptoms or wearing a mask in public. Each day, I wake up hopeful for the future, knowing that I am doing my best to support those in need, and hopeful that effective treatments and vaccines are in fact coming. I am encouraged by individuals that are coming together to help each other in what has now become the new normal. However, uncertainty is still in the air and fear sometimes does creep in. I do my best to hold things at bay each day, embracing positive thoughts, but I know that the clouds still remain, looming, and sometimes I can see a storm hanging in the distance. Then I focus back on my work and I see the skies clearing, giving me hope to move on knowing that if we can come together, we can impart positive change for all.

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