We work hard and we work diligently each day and each night to give someone's loved one a chance to live till the next sunrise.
And maybe, if they are one of the fortunate ones, to actually witness one with their own eyes.
In NYC, the outpouring of support and appreciation for healthcare workers has been visible, audible, and incredible. The daily 7pm clapping and cheering throughout the city. My Lyft driver thanking me for doing what I do on my way to my evening shift. Signs hanging from buildings and sidewalk doodles outside of our hospitals praising us for our dedication and devotion to our field of choice.
And then there are those who are not cheered or clapped for by the community as a whole, but are cheered and clapped for by those of us in healthcare. These are the people who are working so hard behind the scenes to support us, to help feed and protect us, simply out of what cannot be considered anything less than love. Love for total strangers.
And their generosity deserves to be recognized.
Sometimes, the generosity can be uncomplicated and straightforward. Take Rebecca, for example.
My friend Carly connected me with Rebecca a couple of days ago. Rebecca is a kind soul who has been raising money to buy meals for front-liners at hospitals across the city while concomitantly supporting local restaurants.
She wanted to provide meals for our night team in the ICU as a show of gratitude for all we do. Obviously this was touching and greatly appreciated, and she did not hesitate when I asked if she could provide food for 30 people.
She arranged to have Greek food from Souvlaki GR delivered before my shift started, and I was super excited about her choice of restaurant. Now, don't get me wrong - we are appreciative of every single person and business who have donated food throughout this ordeal. But Greek was a change of pace and generally a bit healthier than most. The food wss delicious and absolutely got demolished; everyone was so happy with their healthy and delicious meal that may help stave off the 'Quarantine 15' for a bit longer 😅.
Other times, there may be obstacles to generosity that can be exceedingly frustrating. Take Caroline, for example.
Caroline texted me yesterday and asked me to call her when I had a chance because she needed to ask me a question where the answer stumped her.
She has been helping deliver donated PPE throughout the city to numerous hospitals. But she was so confused about the massive disconnect she was hearing from hospitals who state they have adequate PPE for all their staff versus emails and calls she received from doctors and nurses who were pleading for additional PPE who worked for the SAME EXACT hospitals.
She described numerous situations where her desire to help was met with severe resistance:
Emails she sent in response to requests for PPE by employees from their work email would bounce back.
Physicians telling her their emails were being monitored.
Emails she would receive from a worker who copied their administrator on it would result in a response email by the admin with the worker's email deleted saying: no thank you. . She was perplexed by this response. Why would they say no to free PPE? She was frustrated. I said I could not know for sure, but a couple of possibilities could be:
1. The cynical "they care more about their reputation than they care about the safety of their staff" reason. Many hospitals around the city (thankfully not mine) have put gag orders on their healthcare staff, even threatening peoples job security if they do not comply. Reaching out for PPE and directly contradicting the hospitals claims of adequate stock may be viewed as threatening to the hospitals image.
2. The optimistic "maybe they actually do give a damn" reason. All N95s are not created equal, as the fit and quality could vary greatly, and fake N95s have been sold to take advantage of the pandemic. To ensure the mask functions properly, each person must pass a series of tests that evaluates if the N95 fits and protects the individual well. These fit tests should be done by trained staff familiar with the particular type and brand of mask used. If they are not familiar, then there is a chance staff could be wearing a mask which ends up as a poor fit and risk getting sick. Reusing a mask that fits well for a week is likely safer than wearing a new mask that does not fit the person well.
She appreciated my response, but we both agreed it sounded much more like 1 was in play instead of 2.
And then there is generosity which is not tangible. And sometimes, it is something where, at first glance, it does not even seem like a generous act. Take Piper, for example.
A friend of mine based in LA, Piper texted me to be careful at work because she had a bad dream about me. She then texted me the extent of her dream:
"Someone took an ETT and placed it through [the] Right lateral ventricle of your brain (a bit posterior to where an Omaya reservoir sits) and it came out through your mouth. You were awake for the entire thing and were actually OK afterwards. You and I both acted like this was fairly normal. Then they rolled you [away] and I [saw] you [go] somewhere. Then I kept trying to find you but nobody could tell me where you were. A friend of mine who is a nurse was there also. In my dream we were inside a Children's Hospital. When I finally found somebody who could tell me where you were I woke up.
How is that for completely messed up and very specific?
The jacked up part is, I mean in addition to the endotracheal tube in the brain, there was no skin prep and the ET tube met with almost no resistance."
So nerdy and absolutely absurd. I told her she was crazy. But it also made me laugh. A lot.
She provided me with the generosity of laughter.
And never underestimate the power of a good laugh, especially now.