Friday, April 10, 2020
So after having three fever and symptom-free days, I was able to return to work on Good Friday, which in normal times would have been the beginning of my three day Easter weekend, but I’d missed so much work, already, even working from home, that I really felt the need to get back and catch up on paperwork, which I couldn’t access from the house.
My boss sent me a text the day prior stating we have to be masked to enter the building. All I had was the mask my daughter made for me:
He told me that would be fine, and it was. 🙂 It was sooooo amazing to be back amongst the living! Being a social animal by day and a recluse by night, I was just so excited to see my work family again! I did my usual oxygen rounds, my reports, caught up on payroll, checked on my team throughout the day and all was right with the world. Until I realized I’d gone into a soiled supply room outside of one of the COVID units, and the clean supply room inside another. I wasn’t thinking. I had mask and goggles on, but no gown, and God only knows what I brushed up against in that room, filled with things that had come out of patient rooms. Patients with the virus.
I texted my husband and told him to place my slippers, favorite sweats and an oversized tee-shirt in the studio for me with a couple of old plastic shopping bags and to leave the front door to the building unlocked. I changed before I went into the house and bagged both my shoes and uniform. The shoes stayed in the bag until the next Monday and the scrubs went straight to the washing machine. Welcome to the new normal, I guess.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Over the weekend, I’d worked myself up into a frenzy of near-panic, thinking that I’d unthinkingly put my health in jeopardy by going into that first room without a gown and gloves, and going into the clean room on the other unit without an N-95. I did what every other normal, well-adjusted 54 year old grandmother does when she has the option; I called my mom. No, she didn’t think I was over-reacting. No, she understood why I was frightened, and no, Mom, I didn’t think to tell them NO, not without an N-95 and certainly not in the same mask I’d been wearing three days prior to my getting sick the week before. We decided I would be having an honest conversation about my concerns with my boss upon my return to work on Monday.
Monday, April 13, 2020
The aforementioned conversation went down, and I came away feeling much better. Going into a unit only requires eye protection and a paper mask; only when you enter an unmasked COVID patient’s room do you need the N-95. I do, however, need to be mindful of what I brush up against going into that soiled room that isn’t within the unit. Duly noted.
As an aside, I grabbed a can of Bubly to go with lunch that day. I had to laugh and take the following picture, because who doesn’t love a side of irony with a cheeseburger?
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
The next day, my boss came down to meet with my team. Usually, when he surprises us with a visit like that, he is either bearing food or bad news. He had no pizzas that day. We were told that like many other hospitals across the country, because of the low census (inpatient count for any given day), our organization was implementing a voluntary four-week furlough, and for the rest a mandatory 8 hour PTO day each week. Now, I’d already dropped my team’s hours to 30/week, so this was going to mean 22 regular hours and 8 PTO hours. This still wasn’t going to get them to the under 23 paid hours they would need to draw unemployment of any kind.
After he dropped that particular bomb, he asked to see me behind closed doors in my office. Uh-oh. I was pretty certain I was not going to be offered a promotion or given a raise, based upon his facial expression. I was told that in addition to my weekly 8 hours of PTO, I was going to be transitioned from a salaried position to an hourly position effective the next payroll. I would also be dispatching and transporting. Uhhhhhh… (I honestly believe that may very well have been what came out of my mouth, followed by, “Okaaaaay?”
I kind of indicated that at this time I would kind of like to think about the furlough. The look he shot me screamed a definitive NO. Evidently, the goat-rope my unplanned quarantine had created quite a jam in our processes, so I was guessing that was out of the question. He confirmed that the following day. Okay, I’m alright with that. I’ll keep getting paid, have a work life balance, and some three-day weekends in the process.
He left, but called me a short time later, stating that since we’d just started a new payroll my hourly status was effective immediately. I literally teared up before I’d hung up the phone.
Here’s the deal; over the previous four or five weeks, I’d been pulling 45-50 hour work weeks. I was coming in early, working through lunch, leaving late, and texting/mailing from home to get my employees work elsewhere throughout the facility. I still wasn’t getting everything done I needed to get done, even with all those extra hours put in. Now I’d been knocked down to 32 weekly work hours, adding dispatch and transporting to my already full plate, and had to punch a time clock for the first time since the summer of 2004? Again, I say, Uhhhhhhhhh. How would I get it all done? What misstep would I make because I was rushed to cram everything into such a decreased time span? What would slip through the cracks?
Thursday, April 16, 2020
I had exactly 8 hours to get a furlough schedule created and posted, as I had four signed forms and one “maybe” going in before noon. When I arrived there were treats. A LOT of treats! Soooo much food and well wishes!
There were fruit snacks and Mac & Cheese and granola bars and popcorn and almonds and Nabs and chips and candy! All donated by the community. Our meager pantry was going to be full of blessings and snacks for a good while! Our hearts were truly full that morning! Did I mention there were also mini-Rice-Krispy Treats? 🙂
Turns out my four furloughs turned into five, which is 1/3 of my transporting staff. For the 8th time in just a few days, I was re-doing the schedule to accommodate for five long-running absences.
I left that afternoon with a skeleton crew for the following day (my mandated PTO day) and the weekend.
How did it all turn out? Tune in to the next installment to find out. *Hint: Forced work-life balance = GOOD!”
Until next time…