RE: Your Quarantine

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I had an entirely different blog written for today, but after some thought, felt I should post this instead:

Stop whinging.

Look, I get it. You’re stuck in your homes. These are uncertain times, you can’t just go out and do whatever you like, when you feel like it, and things seem like they may never be the same again. Couple all this on top of your worry about the COVID-19 virus, and how it might impact yourself, your family, and friends, and… as I said, I get it. You’re a bit upset about it all.

But let me tell you why you need to shut the f*ck up.

I have all the same worries as you, except for one thing: I don’t get to stay home. In fact, as an “Essential Employee”, I have to report to my job every night…

At a hospital.

That’s right, I work for a healthcare organization, and my office is based out of one of our hospitals. But unlike the many doctors and nurses working there, struggling through this pandemic as the face of our Essential personnel, mine is a position not even noticed.

I have an office job, you see. I dispatch for various Facilities departments, such as Engineering, Clinical Technologies, and – primarily – for Security. I monitor alarms, answer phones and radio communications, and make sure emergency calls for assistance from Facilities are properly documented and issued, as needed.

Much like the jobs many of you have, which your employer deemed you could do from home, mine could also be done from home with the right technology. But my management has determined that it is easier and cheaper to keep us in the office, as usual. Even if we are being unnecessarily exposed to this virus.

You see, we share the same office as our Security officers. Their office and locker room is at one end of the building, our offices at the other. Unfortunately, we have some equipment that they require access to in our spaces (e.g., the printer/fax machine), where our shared kitchenette space is on their side.

So basically, there is no avoiding the ground troops, so to speak. Which is unfortunate, because while normally we’d be fairly separated from the public in our little office space, the officers are in constant contact with the public. And while they do have access to some personal protective equipment (PPE), quite often they are thrust into direct contact with subjects before they can don full gear, for the safety of those patients and the other staff.

How do I mean? Well, let’s look at a “hypothetical” scenario:

Let’s say our officers are called down to the ER, to assist with a patient that is growing upset with their care. Before they arrive, this call is updated to a an urgent call, as the staff are being assaulted by said patient. So the responding officers don’t have the time to put on anything more than gloves, mask, and goggles, as they run down to the scene.

They don’t have time to ask the staff if this patient is suspected to be COVID positive, nor don a gown to cover their uniforms should they assume they are positive. Instead, to protect the staff and bring this violent episode to an end, they have to jump right into the fray, with at best only minimal PPE.

As I said, this was just a hypothetical situation, but it one our officers face several times a day, working at a major metropolitan hospital. Those officers then eventually have contact with us in Dispatch through our shared spaces, and despite their best efforts to decontaminate, nothing is perfect. Eventually, one of the officers will contract COVID-19, and then spread likely spread it through the department, including to Dispatch.

Unlike the officers, though, we in Dispatch are not being issued PPE at this time. Yes, we are considered Essential personnel (thus we can’t work from home, although we absolutely could, but that’s a moot argument at this point), but as we have only limited direct contact with the public, we are last in line, when it comes to receiving any masks or other protective gear.

We don’t even get the thorough deep-cleaning other departments get from our Housekeeping staff. But hey, we do get sanitizing wipes, though. Our keyboards, for example, are getting sanitized so much that it is eroding the letters off of the keys!

But there is hope on the horizon for us. Word is the company plans to get us masks by sometime this week, which would be nice. Unfortunately, due to company policy, we will not be allowed to wear masks we have obtained for ourselves, once those company-provided masks arrive. Even if our masks provide better protection, because the company policy says we have to use their masks.

Even though they admit those masks will only provide the most basic protection, as it is meant to cover the coughs of those who are already ill. Yeah, that’s really better than the one I have with a built-in filter!

Anyway, like I said it is inevitable that one of our officers will become infected with COVID-19, if they haven’t already. While the company is putting extra measures in place to help protect staff and patients in our hospitals, it simply won’t be enough, or is already too late. Our department is planning for the eventuality that half or more of our officers and dispatchers will be laid low by this virus.

We’re hoping for the best, but as a pragmatic department by design, we have to consider and prepare for the worst, because that’s what we’re designed for: Dealing with the worst case scenarios.

So, while I understand you are bored, anxious, and likely not a little scared, as the virus continues to spread through our communities, I suggest that you remember one thing: While you may be inconvenienced by all this, many of us are being put in direct threat of this disease. Also, while many celebrate the health care professionals, grocery workers, delivery personnel, and other Essential Staff they see in public, don’t forget about those of us facing the same threat, but out of your view.

Also, shut the f*ck up about “Tiger King”, or whatever it is called. I haven’t had the time to watch anything, and I wouldn’t want to waste my limited entertainment time on such trash!

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