If COVID-19 is the war, then front-line healthcare workers are our hero soldiers. Sadly, the list of healthcare providers lost to COVID-19 worldwide grows longer and longer. How is it that the country that spends the most per person on healthcare ended up sending soldiers to the battlefield without proper protection (too few masks and caregivers resorting to garbage bags as gowns).
As mental health and public health nurses with over 50 years of combined experience, we are left with the sentiment that we cannot go back to the way things were. Yes, when we signed up to be nurses, we knew what we were getting into. We knew that we would miss family events, such as parties, baptisms and weddings. We were prepared to miss out on spending time with our families. We also knew that we would work long shifts, spending hours on our feet, sometimes without so much as a bathroom break or an opportunity to sit down and eat a meal.
We knew all of this and we did it anyway because caring for patients, families and communities is what we do. But what we couldn't possibly know is that the COVID-19 global pandemic would strike the U.S. in 2020 and that we could die from it as a result our work. U.S. healthcare will not and should not ever be the same.
Still, despite the tragic losses and seismic industry shifts, there have been some positive developments during this crisis that could shepherd major change. Among them: