Post Pandemic: How do you want to change the world?
“What do I want to change?” is my decision. And yours! We have the ability to change ourselves. Through role modeling and advocacy, we have the ability to influence change on a larger scale within our families, our work, our community, our country, and beyond. This pandemic has often illustrated how meaningless borders are and what an illusion separateness is. Think about it. What impact on you is several Covid 19 illnesses at a meat packing plant? How does the past practice of purchasing medical protective equipment from China affect you? What if you wear a mask in the elevator but your neighbor does not? Or perhaps your neighbor wears the mask and you do not?
“What opportunities for world health are present in this crisis?”
What will change after this pandemic is over? On Day 65 of Massachusetts’s “Stay at Home Advisory” that is my question for reflection. What opportunities for world health are present in this crisis? Here is my wish list, including the action I can take to create my desires. I hope one or more of these action steps resonates with you and invite you to join me. There is strength in numbers!
May the good deeds and kindness to others continue. Even in good weather with no pandemic, some of our neighbors are unable to safely get out to get supplies. Reasons might include mobility limitations, mental health issues, impaired immune systems, caring for someone with dementia, or complicated medical history requiring the avoidance of infection. People with heart, lung, cancer, or mental health illness come to mind. I hope the neighborly check-ins and supply deliveries will continue. We can continue as individuals to assist others, and we can support the programs in our community that do so.
May the systems set up to reach home-bound people continue for those who still need them. There are always people isolated by cancer, mobility limitations, dementia, older age, and more. The need includes delivery services, curbside pickup, virtual entertainment, telehealth, and zoom meetings with virtual document sharing with everyone from insurance agents to court officials. We can continue family and friends Zoom meetings to be inclusive of those who cannot gather in person. We can support businesses who continue offering remote services. We can advocate for utilities and communities to support internet connectivity to those who cannot afford it.
May healthcare be well prepared for unexpected disasters and epidemics. Having ‘just enough’ staff and supplies is not enough. May healthcare that includes the patient’s family and friends be the norm again. May interruptions in so-called elective surgeries that have left people in pain and suffering from organ failure be a thing of the past. May the very thought of rationing ventilators be a thing of a past. We can advocate for adequate healthcare for all, and adequate emergency preparedness.
“Let’s honor those that have suffered or died from the Covid-19 pandemic by creating positive change.”
May our attitude towards others be one of service rather than entitlement. So often it takes a sad story to get people involved. “I didn’t know” is a pitiful excuse. We can ask, “What do you need?”
May we be less likely to pass along infections. Although some people might think the recommendations to avoid Covid 19 are new, as a nurse I learned these sound principles decades ago. Stay home when symptomatic. Remember that we might pass illness along even when we have no symptoms. Avoid hugging or kissing another if we have been exposed to illness. If we are coughing or sneezing, wear a mask around someone who is vulnerable. Wash our hands. Keep our hands away from our mouth, nose, and eyes. We can remember what we have learned, and we can be role models of thoughtfulness.
May we more effectively and more humanely protect our elders in nursing homes. I grieve daily for the elders that have died during the Covid 19 pandemic and am sad for those separated from their friends and families by quarantine. As one of my elder neighbors said, “I think my friends in nursing homes are sitting ducks.” Although this is the worst I have ever seen, annually influenza season hits nursing homes hard. I have no idea how to improve infection control while maintaining meaningful contact with friends and family. If you know, there is an immediate need for experts. The newly formed Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes is accepting nominations for committee members. Consider nominating yourself or encourage others to do so. Click here. We can seek out researchers and innovators in nursing home infection control and support their work with advocacy and donations.
All of the above-mentioned causes could be full time lifetime work. I don’t have to do it all, and neither do you. Action steps include prayer, asking key questions of people and politicians in leadership positions, making suggestions, volunteering, and advocacy. Advocacy can take many forms. If we know what will help, for example, good handwashing technique, we can model healthy behavior, request others wash their hands, and implement handwashing policies within our sphere of influence. Free teaching materials are available at www.cdc.gov. If we don’t know what to do, we can find organizations that are seeking to solve the same problem, join them, share their posts, and support them. Examples might include AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), World Health Organization, The American Nurses Association (ANA) Capitol Beat, and RN Action Center, and the Patient Safety Movement.
Another form of advocacy, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and no way to fix a problem, is to find brilliant experts who are innovators in the field. Dialog with them, support them, and be the first to know what they are publishing and share it with public, private, and legislative leaders. For example, here are 12 innovative healthcare companies included on the 2019 Fortune “Change the World” list. There is a professional association for healthcare innovators. Private research organizations focus on innovative healthcare change, like the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation. The Samuelli Foundation offers grants for innovative holistic health.
Let’s honor those that have suffered or died from the Covid-19 pandemic by creating positive change. We have the power to influence change within our families, our work, our community, our country, and beyond. Create the change you want to see in the world, and I will create the change I want to see. Together we are strong!