Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. (Image courtesy of huntingtonhospital.org)
California School of the Arts

Opinion: Gratitude during the Coronavirus

The coronavirus is sweeping through the nation. America has done little to protect its citizens from becoming infected. Not only is this virus dangerous, but it is also very contagious with over 2 million confirmed cases. In order to stop the spread of the virus, the American government enforced a mandate where all citizens must quarantine themselves at home and practice social distancing measures. 

This policy was made public a week before my school’s spring break in March. In my opinion, the entire quarantine felt like a prolonged spring break, and I initially took advantage of this time to relax and have fun.

However, my best friend’s mom, Samantha Vocelka worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit at the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California. Doctors and nurses are working 24/7 — too many patients are flooding the hospitals. There are just not enough medical supplies for everyone, and this means that some people who are infected with the coronavirus may have a slim chance of surviving. 

“It has definitely been a trying and stressful time,” Vocelka said, “I am scared every time I go to work.”

At one time, she had up to ten patients with coronavirus under her care.

“Information on virus transmission, protocols and practices were changing almost hourly in the beginning. We didn’t have enough information on the exact mechanisms of transmission. I think many of my colleagues had a feeling that it was somewhere between a droplet and airborne virus,” she said. 

It’s also highly likely that when a healthcare worker comes home from work, the virus may spread to family or friends. Therefore, Vocelka uses an N95 mask, scrubs, gown, face shield and hair bonnet.

Everything not disposable gets disinfected upon going home, including her car and shoes. Handwashing occurs every 5-10 minutes.

When the supplies are running low, nurses aren’t allowed to wear masks anymore. Supplies remain in a delicate balance, and any resurgence will put the frontline workers at risk of catching the disease. 

On the other hand, the outpouring of gratitude for healthcare workers has been overwhelming.

ABC7 News reported restaurants are banding together to feed frontline workers, RV loans for quarantine at home, local high school robotics teams use their 3D printers to print ventilators, supplies donation and free mental/emotional support services. 

“Sometimes I couldn’t even watch messages of thanks without crying,” Vocelka said. 

In the duration before the vaccine becomes available, people need to take all the recommended precautions —standing 6 feet apart, wearing face masks and washing hands frequently. This would significantly decrease the number of confirmed cases and reduce the overcrowded hospitals.

We can all get through this pandemic if we work together.