The many stories and articles about COVID-19 that have been in the news recently are not talking about a city or hospital so distant that it's hard to find the relevance to your life.
These events are taking place in northeast Indiana and are affecting the lives — physically and emotionally — of our local health care workers. This is a reality of every hospital system across the United States.
A critical shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals is a severe threat in Indiana. How do you protect both the patient and the health care worker without the proper equipment? How can health care professionals stay healthy and do our jobs effectively throughout this pandemic when we don't have the materials needed? How can hospitals treat patients when we're out of beds, rooms, personal protective equipment, medical equipment or personnel?
Flattening the curve is our best chance of treating patients efficiently and effectively. A March 17 article from the New York Times, “These places could run out of hospital beds as coronavirus spreads,” illustrates this well.
The article includes an infographic that gives examples of potential moderate to severe scenarios of how hospitals in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas could be affected if we do not increase our patient beds.
Also, please take note of and be thankful for all the medical professionals on the front lines. For example, many of the New York Times stories talk about laboratory testing accompanied by photos of lab techs (my profession) at work. Our job is facing real threats.
Along with a shortage in our field, according to American Society of Clinical Laboratory Scientists, we are facing potential exposure to the coronavirus, are short-staffed, have reagent and equipment shortages, have a surplus of specimens and increased workload because of COVID-19 to go along with our normal daily workload.
Please thank medical laboratory scientists, laboratory assistants, phlebotomists, certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, respiratory therapists, radiological technicians, doctors, physicians' assistants, registered dietitians, physical therapists, surgical technicians, pharmacists, hospital registration, environmental services, nutrition services, and many more I didn't name.
No one should assume their job in the health care system is taken for granted or job isn't noticed, regardless of a pandemic.
Lastly, for people who want to help: Please practice social distancing/quarantining, and good hygiene. Be kind to others. Listen and read reliable news sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, New York Times, Washington Post, Journal Gazette and the Johns Hopkins coronavirus interactive map, just to name a few.
And if you really want to get out of the house, if you can (you don't show symptoms or are not exposed), please consider donating blood. The Red Cross is experiencing a severe shortage because of drives being canceled amid the pandemic.
This is a way to not only thank a medical professional, but to show it as well. The Red Cross website, as well as the Versiti Blood Center of Indiana, is a great resource for more information for whether and where you can donate.
Sarah Jaworski is a certified medical laboratory scientist in northeast Indiana. She recently graduated from Purdue University.