Nurses shedding light on ugly side of the flu
Friday, February 09, 2018
The 2017-2018 flu season is breaking all records. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the "overall hospitalization rate is higher than the overall hospitalization rate reported during the same week of the 2014-2015 season; the most severe season in recent years." The most recent CDC report showed an additional 17 flu-related pediatric deaths, bringing the total to 53 this season with little relief in sight.
There is no doubt that the frontline nurses and healthcare workers are bearing the burden of this record-breaking year. One nurse, feeling the daily frustrations of fighting what appears to be losing battle, recently took her thoughts to the masses in a video that went viral.
Nurse Katherine Lockler posted a video to her Facebook page after a long shift in the ER, candidly expressing what most nurses and providers think on a daily basis but often are afraid to say.
Her simple but sassy message hoped to shed some light on the ways the public is not helping the current epidemic. In her six-minute video, she shares how simply the flu is passed but also how most are just not washing their hands.
Lockler reminds folks that the last place you may want to go if you do not have a true emergency is the hospital which is essentially "a cesspool of funky flu" these days. She sarcastically shares how folks are coming to the emergency room unnecessarily to visit friends and family — all unwittingly becoming potential new flu victims.
Although she shares her message in a humorous, saucy way, Lockler's points are well taken and true. If we have any hope of containing this seasonal epidemic, we all need to do our part to prevent the spread. As she points out, do not unnecessarily expose family members, cover your coughs and sneezes — for which she does a fantastic demonstration — and especially wash your hands often.
Lockler also goes on to share the true experience of working in the ER during this busy season. She notes the overcrowding, limited resources and lack of breaks for nurses, while all being exposed themselves at high rates. Long waits leading to frustrated patients yelling and cursing at staff, which certainly does not make the situation any easier.
She ends her video — which has been viewed more than 9 million times — asking the public to be kind and thank the healthcare workers who put themselves in harm's way to care for others.
So, with unprecedented numbers of infected patients, it is no surprise that healthcare workers are becoming sick themselves. Despite mandated vaccinations at most facilities, healthcare workers will inevitably get sick, especially in light of what appears to be an ineffective vaccine this year.
Recently, an Ohio nurse came forward stating she was fired for calling out while ill with the flu. Theresa Puckett, a University Hospital PRN (as needed) nurse was told she violated the hospital's attendance policy due to calling out at the end of 2017 and being sent home early on a second shift.
Since she had missed two shifts in a 60-day period, she was terminated. Although she had a doctor's note to not return to work, it was not considered excused under their policy.
In a strange paradox, the hospital had recently initiated visitor restriction "for the safety of our patients, staff and public." They were restricting anyone who exhibited flu-like symptoms, yet Puckett apparently was supposed to present herself to work. Although the hospital adamantly maintains that they were well within their right to terminate Puckett, it certainly seems that their message is conflicting.
As the flu season continues to rage on, nurses and other healthcare workers will continue to do what they do — care for sick people, try to care for themselves and continue to try to educate the public so they can care for themselves as well.
So, wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and try to minimize your exposure to prevent further spread. Be well and remember to thank a nurse!
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