I reached out to one of my really good friends, Casey Newhouse, who is a CNA in Washington State, about COVID-19 and the effects it has had on her, her job, and how we as Americans can be proactive during these uncertain times. I was really excited to hear what she had to say, and believe that the answers I got were what I was looking for!
How long have you been a CNA?
I've been a CNA for six months now!
What kind of healthcare facility do you work in?
I currently work in a skilled nursing rehabilitation center.
What is your facility's procedure in regard to COVID-19 patient care?
In regards to COVID-19 in my facility, my staff and I are working with the most vulnerable population. We get tested every week. When we come in we have to have our temperature taken at the door while applying hand sanitizer, then use the sign-in book with our name and our current temperature. We apply our face masks and shields before leaving the lobby into our facility. Any resident who comes in from a hospital immediately gets put on the isolation hall for two weeks, which is where we must wear full PPE at all times when entering any of their rooms. We currently are not taking any visitors at our center either.
What is the protocol if you (or another CNA) show signs of infection?
If I were to show signs or another employee were to show signs of infection, we immediately get tested again and have to stay at home for up to two weeks, as well as check anyone else we may have come in contact with.
Were you ever without enough PPE?
As far as I can remember I don't think we've ever had a major shortage other than on gowns.
What is the biggest change your day-to-day has faced because of COVID-19?
For me, the biggest change in my life would have to be not seeing my family. We are all very close and usually have a few gatherings in the summer. Due to COVID-19, the whole family hasn't really seen each other since the start of it. It makes me very sad, but in the end, I know it's for the best and the safety of everyone else. My work schedule has been non-stop, with extra hours and pulling at least 3 doubles (16-hour shifts) a week. It definitely takes a toll on my mental health.
Describe your healthcare facility's atmosphere.
The atmosphere where I work is great! It can be tense at times (when we're short-staffed), but in the end, everybody helps everybody. The nurses I work with are absolutely amazing!
How do you feel about the national news coverage of COVID-19? Accurate? Downplaying the situation?
In all honesty, I'm not big on watching the news. Now-a-days, it's just filled with negativity.
How do you feel about your state's re-opening strategy? Do you think it's safe?
Well, if Governor Jay Inslee could make up his mind, I'd be much happier. He keeps going back and forth about our policies and everyone is starting to get tired of him not making up his mind. Right now we're barely making it through phase 2.
What is the biggest mistake you see people making in regard to COVID-19?
NOT WEARING A MASK! Please wear a mask. Not just for your health, but for the people around you! If we can wear them for 16 hours a day, you can wear one when going out. It's not that hard.
What advice can you give us for staying as healthy as possible?
As far as advice, I'd say keep washing your hands, always keep some form of hand sanitizer with you, and if you feel that you are getting sick do not be afraid to go get tested just to make sure! Don't go to any big gatherings or parties! Keep your social circle small, if possible, and stay 6-feet away from people! Social distancing may not be fun but it'll save lives!!
How is your personal life impacted by COVID-19?
When I'm not working in the summer, I'm a big festival-goer. All music festivals have been canceled until further notice, so I've been really bummed about that — festivals are the one place I can be carefree and just have fun! I love to travel and had plans to travel out of the country this summer, but that has also been put on pause until further notice. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm a big family girl. I love seeing and hanging with my family, but we haven't been able to do any of that either. This has definitely impacted my mental health — when I'm not at work, I'm at home and it can be lonely. I feel lost at times and I miss my friends because they get me through everything, but I know they are always a phone call away!
What can citizens in your area do to help healthcare workers fight COVID-19?
Keep washing your hands and wearing a mask! If you know someone in the healthcare field, please make sure to reach out and thank them because we are doing our best, losing sleep, stressing out, and even dying in order to save everyone else! A simple thank you goes a very long way!