In March 2020, I left nursing school for spring break. I didn’t know how much my life would change that week. COVID took over all aspects of life. My husband has been working from home since 2007 to help with our daughter, so that wasn't new, but everything else was.
The streets were bare as everyone was staying home. Grocery shelves were picked over. We didn't see friends or family. Everyone just stayed in their own little bubbles.
Early on I felt kind of relieved that I didn't have to worry about how COVID would affect my daughter Casey. She passed away in 2016. I had so many thoughts on would we let nurses into the house, or would we go to doctor appointments? How would we get food without adding to the risk of bringing in COVID?
I was thankful that I didn't have to worry about these things. At the same time, I also knew many families were facing that reality.
If anyone knows how to self-isolate and quarantine, it's a family of a child with medical complexity. We have been on germ duty since our kiddos were born. It doesn't make it easy, but we have had lots of practice.
Unfortunately, a steady reliance on home health and other medical support programs required that we open our homes to various care providers. COVID changed in-home care dramatically. Many home health nurses quit while some got sick and brought it into their patients’ homes.
As a nurse for kids with medical complexity, I hear a lot of families talk about losing home nursing. Many of the new patients are going home without any help.
Some of the home health nurses quit to work in the hospital setting or to travel to high-demand places to make more money. The need for home health nurses is growing each day, as more and more nurses leave the home setting.
The exhausted families I see are doing the best that they can, but they need help. Hopefully, the pandemic and the news stories of nursing shortages will lead more people to become nurses so these families can have some relief soon.
Before COVID, many people didn’t really understand, to some people, a cold is so much more than a cold. Many of these people understand now. I wish it didn’t take a pandemic to get this point across. However, I am happy that people are finally showing a little more respect and compassion for all that families deal with every single day.
Learn more about caring for children with medical complexity here.