Even as we call them heroes a million times a day, we turn a blind eye to the fact that there's an utter lack of concern for their wellbeing.
Since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus forced a large portion of the world population to take shelter within their homes, healthcare workers have been idolized to no extent on social media. While we shower them with praises and words of gratitude for putting their lives on the line to fight the pandemic, it's undeniable that we—as a society—have failed them. Even as we call them heroes a million times a day, we turn a blind eye to the fact that we're sending them into this battle without proper protection and no concern for their wellbeing. Aside from the lack of PPE putting them at risk of being infected, we also need to address the immense emotional injuries they bear.
The physical and emotional toll they bear is evident in the now-familiar bruised face photographs of tired healthcare workers. Many healthcare workers have been sharing their jarring images on social media alongside heartbreaking accounts of what their days have been like during this global health crisis. Emergency room nurse Cierra Nicole wrote on Instagram: This is the new normal after a shift, blisters on the nose, and irritation to my face. Wearing a mask for 12 hours straight. Reusing a mask for at least 3 days, or until it is visibly soiled. Placing it in a paper bag after a shift until the next day.
This virus is real, and people are sick, fighting for their lives Young people with NO health problems are sick, old people are sick and people are dying, she added. I am still seeing people having get-togethers and hanging out. It’s infuriating. Why are you so careless about your health, your friends' health, and your families. Just because you don’t have symptoms does not mean you are not carrying it. I want you all to DO BETTER. Be smarter. Stay safe. Fellow nurse Sydni Lane had a similar story to share. She wrote: I broke down and cried today.
I cried of exhaustion, of defeat. Because after 4 years of being an ER nurse, I suddenly feel like I know nothing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the statement "but this is what you signed up for." Just, no. I signed up to take care of sick patients, yes. I did not sign up to be unprotected by their sickness (although my hospital is busting their asses to try to protect us). I did not sign up to be yelled at by angry patients because our government failed to be prepared. I did not sign up to risk mine and my family’s health and safety because people wanted to go on their vacations after they said NOT to. Because my face hurts after wearing an N95 for 13 fucking hours, which happens to be the same N95 I wore yesterday for 12.5 hours, and the same one from all last week, Lane added.
This New York-based nurse captioned her photo as such: I can’t even begin to describe my emotions after a 14-hour long night on Coronavirus Critical Unit. I’m exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, furious for not having enough or quality PPE, scared of carrying the virus to home, or contracting myself; I’m physically and mentally drained and maybe somewhat proud of myself for helping to fight this pandemic. Miguel Simas, a doctor from Portugal, shared a snap of his bruised face, writing: The covid mask effects. Please stay home and protect the ones you love! STAY SAFE, STAY STRONG!
This healthcare worker described her experience at the frontlines of the fight against Coronavirus as such: I don’t usually like to post photos of myself. But I felt the need to record moments like this. See the marks on my face? Those are the marks left by the N95 mask that divides me and the potential Covid-19 patient. That barrier is one of which that keeps me safe from bringing the virus home. I am mentally exhausted after each shift.