Governors State Nursing Professor: 'Stay Home, Stay Positive, Stay Balanced'
As a Professor of Nursing at Governors State University and a practicing family nurse practitioner, Tifany Jamison can draw on 20 years of experience to explain what the community can do to help healthcare professionals and each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The current plight of healthcare workers is not a secret. Many no longer have the luxury of focusing only on specialty roles. From pediatrics to geriatrics, we now rally together in COVID-19 wards. Many are juggling the work in the ICU, which is a completely different scope of practice than what they’ve been doing, while managing multiple patients at once. It’s difficult, but it’s a wonderful thing to see. We know we’re working together as a team and we know our priority is to make sure people survive this pandemic.
“Outside of the hospital, healthcare workers are not living in a vacuum. Many have children at home and immunocompromised family, and if we are exposed to COVID-19 we have to isolate. The toll this takes on mental health can be overwhelming. When you’re supposed to be helping but you can’t answer the call because you’ve fallen victim to the pandemic you’re fighting, it can lead to depression and then isolation.
“While healthcare workers continue the fight against the pandemic, it’s important to note that these ‘front line' workers are actually your last line of defense. You’re your own best advocate. Do what needs to be done to protect yourself and own your health. It’s important that you don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.
Here are some tips from Professor Jamison to protect yourself in these times:
1. Stay Educated on COVID-19
If you start to feel unwell, don’t immediately assume it’s COVID-19. Symptoms of the virus vary as people respond differently. When I work with patients, I check for severe shortness of breath, fever and loss of taste or smell. But I also check for nasal drainage and gastrointestinal issues. We’re in flu and allergy seasons, too, so there are other respiratory infections that exist that we can test for. As a provider, I remind the nurses it can be something else, not just COVID-19.
It’s important to understand what COVID-19 is as well. Coronavirus isn’t new, and there are strands that people have had already. but this particular strand, COVID-19, is new.
2. Know Your Health and Family History
Know your body—know your health. Learn your family history and know the medications you’re taking as well as the dosage. While you’re in quarantine, start tracking things such as blood pressure, and pick up the phone and call your parents or grandparents to ask about your family history. Can you tell your doctor what’s really going on with you? Were you taking care of yourself prior to this? What are you doing now to get healthy? We’re so afraid of what’s happening we miss the time to learn more, to help ourselves, to benefit our minds, bodies, and spirits
3. Take Care of yourself Mentally and Emotionally
Self-care is important. You need to think about emotional and mental well-being. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with working remotely, or not working at all, and being at home with children. We want people to realize the importance of finding balance in their lives. Practice mindfulness and meditation, exercise, stream your church on TV, or listen to a podcast. We have patients come in sick, and they’re worried about money, they’re worried about what is happening at home, and their mental health is as bad as their physical health.
4. Don’t Fall into Old Patterns
I’m seeing patients who are overwhelmed by the pandemic. I’ve had to address a lot of substance abuse because some of them are relapsing to deal with the fear and anxiety. People are also falling into old habits of eating poorly, and not exercising while quarantined. These create more problems in the long run.
5. Flatten the Curve
Follow the CDC mandates and stay home––if you can. Remember, asymptomatic people can be carriers. As a provider I want people to understand we’re going to get through this, but it’ll take time. It won’t be a quick fix. We have to stay home, stay positive, and stay balanced and everything will work out. Reduce the risk, and be your own front line.