My “new normal” at work, as short-lived as it was…
So, yeah. It’s been kind of a wild week.
Below you will find my journal entries for the past week and then I will catch you up with the whole quarantine situation. Please do not confuse “quarantine” with “stay-home orders.” They are not the same.
March 26, 2019:
The single thing I most stressed over happened today. I had to take all of my full time workers down to 30 hours weekly. 😭
I’d been working 7 days a week (over the weekends I’d been phoning it in, but was in very regular contact with my team) to let my folks voluntarily leave early. This worked for the first two weeks, then the novelty wore off yesterday when I shut down my first shift at 2pm. One of my team went ham on me. 😢 Bless her, I know she and her family are living paycheck to paycheck and putting one daughter through college, and has another at home. Today she apologized, after having called MY boss, who backed me up 100%. I’ve encouraged them to apply for unemployment .
This sucks mighty hard, right now.
I want to go replace my mom’s laundry room light, but I can’t. She’s high-risk and I’m exposed to God only knows what during my day. It is what it is.
March 28, 2020, wee hours of the morning:
I had a meeting with HR Thursday morning because I knew I needed to slash hours for my team. The first couple of weeks everyone wanted to leave early or stay home. This week? Sh*t got real and people fought tooth and nail to stay at work. When I got home Wednesday I texted my boss and told him I wanted to go down to 32 hours a week and wanted to keep him in the loop. He is also the Emergency Prep guy and he’s going on his third week with no time off because he is still in mitigation mode. It was under his direction that I met with HR.
We cut hours back to 30/wk. I had to re-do entire schedules for a team of 16; three 8 hour days and one 6 hour day. Team was not impressed, although a handful had my back and supported me. I’m considered essential, so my days have been running about 9-10 hours/day, and working Sunday for a bit to train a dispatcher and may have to go in Saturday (today). I’m salaried and don’t get overtime, so they are getting their money’s worth out of me this past couple of weeks. 😂 I’ve been helping my team file for unemployment, because in our state, they can do that, now. Some of my team is now in float pool to temp scan employees coming in for 12 hour shifts.
We have over 800 cases in the state, four deaths, and one positive in our facility. Governor is imposing a stay-at-home rule effective Monday at 5 pm.
I am mentally falling apart. We were supposed to see our therapist last Monday, but that was cancelled, along with our hair appointments, lol. Leadership is in the same boat. We are all tired, stressed and dealing with angry and scared teammates.
At the same time? The entire facility has come to realize we are all in this together.
Also March 28:
We’d been watching three tents go up in out ED circle for several days and this was the day they went live. Nobody has actually told us the function of these tents, but if you watch for a bit, it comes together.
First tent: State your business. Either go park, drive around to the admitting door or go to the next tent.
Second tent: this has to be a preliminary screening tent. We can’t tell exactly what’s going on at the second tent because it’s blocked by the third one, but we figure some temperature taking and a rundown of symptoms. Vehicles either turn around and leave or go to the third tent.
Third tent: this is where the health care team all decked out in face masks, shields and caps and gowns descend upon the vehicles like a swarm of locusts. This is generally where the paperwork is generated sent into the admitting area. Then the vehicle pulls around to the ED entrance and one individual gets out and is screened yet again at the ED entrance. everyone looks like they are in the movie “Outbreak.”
This was also the day the governor issued a stay-at-home order, effective March 30 at 5 pm.
Today, April 2, 2020 – 8:23 pm:
Yesterday I woke up with a headache, and not my usual sinus-related junk; I’ve been taking Augmentin for a sinus infection (ENC pollen-based) since early last week.
Johnny texted me, yesterday, to let me know that we are getting a chunk of change from the insurance company for our flooring, which ALL has to come out; bedroom, living room, dining and kitchen areas and the entire hallway. I figured it would be a while, with the stay-at-home order in place.
After doing my oxygen inventory, I noticed that my throat was sore. I chalked that up to the whole allergy-thing. By 12:30, I was experiencing chills and sweats, as well as body aches. I texted my boss and told him what symptoms I was experiencing and told him I was heading home and that I would keep him posted. He texted back that he hoped that I would be feeling better, soon. I went home and crashed on the couch for several hours. I woke up and had a low-grade fever. (My normal is in the mid-97’s, and last night I was at 99.1.) I was feeling as if I’d been hit by a truck.
I ran my symptoms through both the Mayo Clinic’s and Apple’s symptom checker. Both were different, but both advised me to contact my PCP (Primary Care Provider) within 12 hours. My PCP opens at 8am, so I was up early, because I’d gotten used being at work at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Shortly before 7:00, I got the following image from one of my team. The line to get into work was crazy! As I mentioned in a previous post, they are temp scanning us as we go in and asking all the appropriate questions.
Photo Courtesy Tomekia Butler
Took my temp out of the gate. 99.1. Still had the headache, sore throat and chills, so I called at 8:00 sharp. My PCP is part of the UNC Healthcare System, so they told me to contact the UNC Coronavirus Helpline. I did. I got an actual person within a minute! I explained what was going on with me and they immediately put me on a 14-day self-quarantine.
She asked, “Do you have any questions or concerns?” Oh, boy, did I ever! I told her that I supervise our Transport department and taking me out for two weeks is going to create a bit of a situation. Now, I’m no better, no worse than anyone else, but I’m in healthcare, so I’m kind of essential. That changed everything! She told me that she would have a nurse contact me, but because of high call volume, it would probably be late today or early tomorrow before I got a callback. I thanked her, told her to be well and stay safe, and hung up.
I called our Occupational Health office to let them know what was going on and was told it would probably be later today before I heard anything, so I called my mom. I am of the fortunate few in my age group to still have a mom, so when I need her, I can call her. While we were talking, I got another call from UNC, so we disconnected and I answered the call. An awesome UNC nurse was on the line and confirmed my job, symptoms and a good callback number. Apparently, being in healthcare put me in the “essential” group and she told me someone would be calling me to schedule testing within the next 8 hours or so.
I phoned into our Safety Huddle, and about 8 minutes in, I got a call on my cell from a Chapel Hill number, so I answered it. I scheduled my testing for 10:00 this morning. I finished the Huddle call and learned some pertinent info about our staff elevators that I needed to relay to my team, so I did that.
I went outside to our outdoor living space and had another cup of coffee, got ready to go and went to my testing appointment. I would only wish this on my worst enemy, and even then? I would think twice about even that.
So I showed up to my testing area and am greeted with a Nest-like camera at the door. I rang, stated my name, and was asked for my cell contact number. Gave it and was instructed to go back to my car to await further instructions. At this point I’m feeling like I’m living in an apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Shortly after my car-quarantine, I get a call, and register. I was told to mask if I had one, or pick one up in the intake area. I had one. I went through the door, foamed in, and waited to be called in. Under thirty seconds later, I was called into “Room 2.” I got a rapid flu and strep test. Both negative. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. The flu swab really made my eyes water, more so than previous flu tests. The COVID test sucked balls. I’m sorry, but I really felt like I needed band-aids on the backs of my eyeballs. That shit hurt. I’m not gonna lie.
These wonderful UNC nurses (one was an NP) told me, after I mentioned that my anxiety was really high, that we all just needed to let it to and let God (or our personal higher power of choice) handle it because stressing would weaken the immune system. I was down with that.
They gave me a bunch of paperwork; my work note excusing me until 4/13 as well as guidelines to follow and sent me on my way.
I only cried a couple of times today, as I see our NC death toll rising. At the current time? North Carolina is reporting 2016 positive cases, which is 1,216 more cases than the amount I noted on March 28 We currently have 19 deaths in our state. I’ve been in the loop as far as work goes, in that I’ve had and made a LOT of phone calls, some of which came two bites into dinner and about three snores into a nap. It is what it is.
I’ll try to check in tomorrow.
Also? Primal scream therapy? Evidently, it’s a real thing. And it feels AH-MAZING in empty house. Twice. Just saying.
Love and light!
Until next time…