Conexus MedStaff's Vice President of Operations, Cathy Vollmer, RN, shares an honest account of how it feels to be a Registered Nurse not working on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how she is helping fight the virus in other ways...
I am a Registered Nurse. And in the midst of the healthcare crisis the globe is facing right now, I am frustrated with myself. There is a feeling of helplessness. I am witnessing the dedication that healthcare workers are pouring into their field and passion for caring for others. I have always loved my career and find fulfillment in promoting nursing and keeping nurses in nursing! And yet…as I sit on the sideline, I feel, like many others, helpless.
Though I am a Registered Nurse, I have not worked bedside in more years then I care to remember, yet I have always felt myself a nurse at heart. I am not able to be on the frontline with all the nurses I am seeing in the news and social media. I feel helpless.
Earlier this week, I heard on the news of a clinic in our area offering antibody testing for IgG by fingerstick and providing results in 10 minutes. After hearing people in our community talk about this throughout the week, my husband and I decided to go early, arriving at 7:45 for a 9:00 am office opening. WOW, were we surprised? The streets were lined with vehicles that obviously got an earlier start than us! They started handing out numbers at 8:20 am and we were lucky to be number 78 (myself) and number 79 (my husband). They gave us one page - front and back paper to complete open areas. Thank goodness we did not stick with the idea of going about 10:00 am, that we brought coffee with us and that there was a bathroom at a nearby gas station. We were not aware at the time that only 100 tests were being done at the facility that day. We saw several hundred cars try to be added to the testing.
So, there we were 5 hours later. The staff was extremely pleasant while wearing their PPE. Candidates who were being COVID-19 screened went to one area of the parking area and the antibody takers stayed in line. We then paid our fee and with a small finger prick that took only a couple of seconds, we were screened while remaining in our car. About ten minutes later, our results were in: Number 78 was negative for the antibody, and number 79 was positive. They did mention, though, that most likely number 78 would be positive also. Please note, antibody testing has 12% false-negative and less than 1% false positive.
They gave us the papers and told us that the Department of Health would be reaching out to us and that we could contact the American Red Cross regarding plasma donation. And so, we wait to see what the next steps are. Can my husband donate, and is there a chance I am also positive? My husband had not been sick at all, while I had a bad "flu-like" cold at the beginning of January after being in Seattle and out of the country. Both of us were in Colorado in early February.
Apart from the amazing work I get to do for Conexus helping place and support international nurses in the U.S., I am seeking and finding other meaningful ways that I can contribute to this pandemic. I am in healthcare and I find navigating this current situation difficult. I cannot imagine how others in healthcare are finding it. I am sure “regular” practices and processes are out the door. We are navigating unknown waters at this time for sure. I understand we need to be flexible. We need to appreciate all the hard-working front-line healthcare workers that are working tirelessly.
I want to be the person to support you in any way I can so we can get through this. I want to have your back and be there to help. We appreciate each and every one of you, yesterday, today and tomorrow too!