How Minority Healthcare Workers are Responding to COVID-19

Photo Credits: Piyathida S. Jankowski, RN.

What is your experience serving COVID-19 patients?

Piyathida S Jankowski, Registered Nurse, Pomona, NJ.

“I’m a bedside nurse on the Med-Surgical floor and have been floated to the COVID unit. In South Jersey, we have lower cases than North Jersey. We’re still not yet overwhelmed with the patients coming in with Coronavirus but we are expecting a peak next the coming months. It was scary to receive my first COVID-19 patient, I felt like at the time, we didn’t know what we were doing. Still, we took all preventative measures and we were very careful taking care of the patient. However, now I’d rather receive a patient coming in tested negative or diagnosed with it since we know what we’re dealing with. We all have the PPE ( personal protective equipment) to wear and care for these patients.”

Nina Andersen, BSN-RN, North Jersey.

“I work as Director of Nursing in a Ambulatory Surgery Center and as a per diem Staff Nurse in a nursing home/rehab facilities. I have been working with COVID -19 patients since the outbreak began. Each hospital has designed at least 1 floor to admit patients with suspected COVID-19. Rules and policies were changed in order to provide the best care for patients. Healthcare staff needs to be protected from getting the virus. N95 masks shortage was a major problem. We had to reuse masks otherwise we have no protection against the virus. I witnessed patients dying in nursing homes and in the hospital. Many were elderly with chronic diseases, making them more vulnerable. The death rate went up quickly to the point that funeral homes were not able to provide service fast enough. It was horrified to see that.”

Dora Figueroa, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, NYC.

“I work with children who have physical/developmental disabilities, sensory processing disorders. I assist them with daily living activities, fine motor tasks, play skills, and visual-motor skills. None of my patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19, thankfully. But schools are closed and thus I am serving them via teletherapy.”

Joselyn Arana River, Art Therapy Intern, Chicago, Il.

“I do not work with patients that are positive but we have had one case at the hospital and patient was in isolation and treated properly for it. As a mental health worker I am seeing the effects COVID-19 has caused. There has been an increase in anxiety and depression among many of our patients.”

Lorena Magallanes, Mental Health Support Specialist, San Dimas, CA.

“I’m seeing a lot of students with anxiety and sleeping issues. They are struggling with falling asleep and staying asleep due to the virus. I have been working from home, but I am still making sure to wash my hands and wear a mask if I go out. It has been difficult and many people miss the social piece wanting to be with their loved ones. We must continue to stay strong and asking for help when they need it, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.”

What preventative measurements do you take to not bring the virus home?

“When I work on the COVID unit or as a support nurse in ICU, I change into hospital surgical scrubs (green scrubs) and at the end of the shift I change into the scrubs I wear going into work. I strip before coming into the house, put my clothes into laundry right away, and go straight to shower. I wash my hands a lot during my shift (which I have been doing that even before this pandemic) and I change my shoes before getting into the car and keep my working shoes in a box in the car after sanitizing them.” Jankowski, RN said.

“I make sure I adhere to a strict infection control procedure. I take each step of put on/off PPE and wash my hands in between tasks. I gather all equipment, bundle the care for the patient, and minimizing exposure. More importantly, I wear an N95 mask at all times. I changed my cloth when I go into my car. I put my nursing scrubs in the garbage bag to be cleaned later then I enter the house and wash my body head to toes each day.” Andersen, RN said.

What advice would you give to the community that you are serving?

“To follow the guidelines—stay home, social distancing, wear masks when you’re out in public, and wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! I know it a tough time but with everybody helps, we could get through this together. Also please discard masks and gloves properly. It annoys me the most when I see those laying around on the ground.” Jankowski, RN said.

“A community needs to support each other and people who are in need. Wash hands as often as you can and don’t panic. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need anything, there are many people in our community who are willing to help.” Andersen, RN said.

Recognizing the importance of minority Healthcare Workers contributing and serving the American population during the novel Coronavirus is essential to bring awareness and promote support for these communities. The effects of COVID-19 in members of racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionate and continuously affecting the general population. I invited healthcare workers to talk about their experience and response caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Photo Credits: Piyathida S. Jankowski, RN.

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Stephanie Clavel

Stephanie Clavel

Stephanie Clavel is a Media Production Artist, Journalist, and Curator specializing in travel tips, lifestyle interviews, and the impact the Coronavirus is having on healthcare workers and people worldwide.

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