Every day I wake up wondering, “Is today the day?”

Is today the day I am going to have to care for someone infected with the virus that has the whole world quarantined?

While most of the world is practicing social distancing and avoiding contact to protect themselves and their families, there are a handful of people running straight into the storm.

As a nurse, I am one of those people.

As a person of faith, I put my fate into God’s hands and pray for the best, but it doesn’t take away the lump in my stomach when I walk into work, or the racing thoughts of worst-case scenarios and what-ifs.

As the research and discovery of this pandemic continues, there is no way to ensure the safety of anyone, but there are easy ways we can increase our safety and others’.

“I have cared for multiple people that have had airborne illnesses such as tuberculosis, influenza, chicken pox, even older strains of coronavirus.”

I have cared for multiple people that have had airborne illnesses such as tuberculosis, influenza, chicken pox, even older strains of coronavirus.

One in particular was a patient who tested positive for coronavirus prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. They had recently come from a cruise and were vacationing in Orlando. They had no respiratory symptoms, but we did a respiratory swab to find out what was going on, and the test came back positive for coronavirus.

For the two nights I cared for this patient, I did not wear the personal protective gear that nurses and doctors are now armed with because it was not a necessary precaution then. My only defense was using standard nursing precautions, which include washing your hands with sanitizing foam upon entering and exiting a patients’ room. Although the patient may not have had the same strand as the current COVID-19, there was still the possibility of transmission.

“These hygiene practices aren’t only effective inside the hospital. Outside, you can use them to help prevent the spread.”

Luckily, I did not contract the virus. I attribute that to washing my hands and using numerous other hygiene practices, which we do constantly as health professionals.

But these hygiene practices aren’t only effective inside the hospital. Outside, you can use them to help prevent the spread elsewhere by being constantly aware of yourself and your surroundings. This includes cleaning any and every type of surface after contact and equipment after use; avoiding exposure to other people’s bodily fluids; as well as practicing consistent environmental cleaning habits, respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette, which include coughing into a tissue and disposing of it immediately and distancing yourself from others if you’re experiencing symptoms.

“As a healthcare worker, I am obligated to show up to the frontline every day to do my part to help.”

As a healthcare worker, I am obligated to show up to the frontline every day to do my part to help. Scientists, government officials and nongovernmental organizations are hard at work to better understand this virus and set us up for the best possible outcome.

But at the end of the day, we all have to come together not as a city, not as a state, not even as a country — but as a species to defeat this virus and keep each other safe. And that starts with you, me and all of us doing our part to stop it from spreading farther.

 

Michi Leonardo ’18 studied nursing at UCF and works for Orlando Health’s at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.