By Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE
North Carolina is now seeing most counties across the state, including western North Carolina’s, in the “red zone,” meaning we’re experiencing extensive viral spread of COVID-19. We also know that “pandemic fatigue” is very real, and that we as human beings have a tendency to shut down in emotional exhaustion after a period of prolonged vigilance.
I know that, especially now, it seems as if this pandemic will be unrelenting, but we need to try to fight feeling overwhelmed and stick to the practices that we know work to prevent the disease’s spread. I know you’ve heard it many times, but it always bears repeating: Now more than ever, it’s absolutely critical to continue practicing those 3 Ws — wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart and washing your hands frequently. Unlike the beginning of the pandemic when we knew comparatively little, we now have the benefit of much more knowledge about how the virus works, and it’s the droplets coming from our mouths and noses that create the most risk for people.
The three Ws are the protocols we should use when we go out, but we should be doing everything possible to minimize our time out in public, because being with and near others, whether it’s a social setting or just in the grocery store, directly raises our risk for getting sick and making others sick. Be sure to observe Governor Cooper’s modified stay-at-home order, which he extended through at least January 29. This guideline stipulates that North Carolina residents stay home between the hours of 10 pm to 5 am.
During the hours between 5 am and 10 pm each day, we should not gather in groups indoors with people we don’t live with. People should also limit their outings to absolutely necessary ones, such as picking up prescriptions or groceries — and even these can be avoided if you opt to pre-order these goods and either drive to the store and arrange for touchless delivery outside the store (with this option, you never even have to leave your car), or have them delivered to your home.
Even though some of us may not have lived through anything like this before, many Americans have, and those health crises ended. One example is the influenza epidemic of 1918, and a friend of mine who is in her 70s remembers as a child that she and her family had to quarantine inside their house for a prolonged period due to a regional outbreak of scarlet fever.
It is natural that we may feel “in mourning” for the way life used to be, when we could casually meet a friend for dinner or go to the gym with absolutely no pandemic danger-related thought. It seems sometimes that things will never go back to normal, but if we stay the course with COVID-19, we will turn the corner and start to see numbers come down.
Now that we have the vaccine and more and more citizens will be receiving it based on their age and health conditions, we do expect to see some lifting of the dark cloud that has surrounded us all these long months. In the meantime, we must continue to take the simple steps we know curb COVID-19 — not just to protect ourselves, but to preserve the health of our loved ones and fellow community members.
If we remain united in our efforts to combat COVID-19, we will emerge from this, and all of us here at Angel Medical Center will continue to be here to care for you.
Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center.