Support Our Hardest Workers: Healthcare Heroes

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SO MUCH has changed in the last few weeks, it has left our heads spinning! Within days we went from kids at school to now homeschooling, from working outside of the home to now attempting to work from home, and from seeing friends to practicing social distancing. Anxiety and stress are high throughout our community as we see friends and family lose their jobs. We are left wondering whether it is safe to stop by the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk. Shouldn’t we wait until we have more things on our list or go first thing in the morning before it gets crowded . . . before surfaces have been touched too much?

Among so many changes right now, our doctors, nurses, patient care technicians, radiologists, and pharmacists are the ones knowingly coming in contact and caring for these patients with COVID-19. As a Registered Nurse, now staying home with my kids, I feel like I need to help as much as possible. Healthcare workers right now are fearful of infecting their families at home. I’ve heard of detailed disrobing rituals after coming home from work to keep the “work germs” out of the house. If we have the time and the ability to help our healthcare system right now, we should!

Support Our Hardest Workers_ Healthcare Heroes Charleston Moms
A sign by Sign Gypsies placed at the front of my neighborhood to encourage our healthcare workers headed to work.

I’ve seen so many amazing ways our community has come together to help each other in the last week. Here are four ways you can be there for your local healthcare team.

1. Donate Supplies

Unfortunately, hospitals around the nation were not prepared for the magnitude of a pandemic; therefore, anxiety among healthcare workers is high. There is a national shortage. N-95 masks are the masks that they must wear to be protected from patients with COVID-19, and as I write this, some hospitals are already rationing and reusing masks (which are meant to be used only once). MUSC Health is accepting donations of N-95 masks, surgical masks, gloves (sterile and non-sterile), and safety goggles. The charity is called Hero’s Need Masks and was started by heart surgeon Sanford Zeigler. Currently, the drop off is from 12-4 p.m. each day at the Clinical Sciences Building downtown. Ask neighbors or local businesses to donate stockpile personal protective equipment (PPE) (think of contractors, dentists that may be closed for the time being, restaurants, painters, woodworkers), take a picture and tag #herosneedmasks.

2. Make Homemade Masks

There is a team of volunteers around Charleston that are sewing cloth surgical masks for Doctors and Nurses to aid in the current medical mask shortage. Sew.Some.Good and Thrive Charleston Mask Force are the Facebook groups that share patterns for surgical masks and N95 masks (that include a pocket for adding a filter). As of now, MUSC and RSFH are accepting donations of cloth masks but are not using them in practice yet. Each hospital will have its own cleaning process for masks before distributing supplies to its staff. Healthcare providers are also coming to these groups to specifically ask for a certain number of masks for their team to have just in case they run out of masks. If you can donate your time to follow a simple mask pattern and can sew, this is the perfect way to support our local healthcare teams.

3. Feed our Heroes

A group of local ladies has put together a charity to deliver meals from local restaurants to Emergency Room doctors and nurses in Charleston. Just donate whatever amount you would like and help twofold by supporting our local restaurants AND our exhausted medical teams. As of March 25th, they have donated 600 meals to local healthcare teams! As a nurse, I can vouch that I have skipped lunches or dinners while working. It was such a welcome surprise to have a yummy, free treat in the break room. Free meals are a great morale booster and help nurses and doctors feel appreciated!

3. Pray for our Providers

Our healthcare teams could definitely use some prayers lifted up these next few weeks or months. Many of us have not seen anything like this in our career, let alone our lifetime. Pray for our nurses and doctors to have the endurance to work long hours with these sick patients, for their protection and the protection of their families, and to keep them from getting burnt out, which happens often in healthcare under normal circumstances.

I speak for several of my nurse friends who can’t be by the bedside right now when I say, we feel a sense of guilt for not being there for our team and want to do what we can to help. I want to tell all the medical staff and families, thank you SO MUCH for your sacrifices.

As a final note, please practice social distancing so we can prevent the spread of this virus. Stay home, shop only when necessary, and no playdates. We do not want to overwhelm our healthcare system that is already going to be spread thin.  I hope you keep our healthcare team in your thoughts and prayers right now as we battle COVID-19.  

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Elizabeth Wagner
Elizabeth Wagner is a 5th generation Charlestonian and a 3rd generation James Islander.  She and her husband maintained a long distance relationship throughout her nursing school and his Marine Corps deployments. They married in 2010. After working as a neurosurgical nurse for ten years, she became a stay-at-home mom of their now four kids. From her natural passion to help others and through caring for her own children, Elizabeth became interested in herbal remedies, the benefits of plant medicine, and natural ways to treat her kids illnesses. In 2016, after the birth of her third child, she started Island Bloom Herbals. She makes homemade elderberry syrup, cough syrup, and herbal teas. She and her husband are beekeepers and have three hives in their backyard.  Elizabeth and her husband also love to dive. Her husband proposed to her underwater off the coast of Charleston and they have dove in the Georgia Aquarium with whale sharks!

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