Healthcare workers and COVID-19: an inside look

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A healthcare worker wears a mask to protect from contracting the virus

Ajalon Peterson, News and Features Editor

The infamous international pandemic has now divided the nation’s workforce into two categories: essential and non-essential. Essential workers like grocery store clerks and healthcare professionals are being placed at the front lines of the crisis, and are the ones who are likely most at risk of exposure. Although measures are being taken to protect these critical individuals, they are sacrificing their safety and peace of mind for those of others.

Elizabeth Prodahl is a registered nurse at Children’s Minnesota Hospital, and is a mother to several Orono students. According to Prodahl, there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 at her hospital. When asked how the hospital was addressing the pandemic and the safety of staff, Prodahl admitted that the hospital has not been entirely transparent about PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies.

“Staff members are supplied one face mask per shift and one face shield for the whole COVID-19 season. In a regular respiratory season, I would usually go through a minimum of 15 face masks in a shift (12+ hours). Only having one mask is less than ideal,” RN Elizabeth Prodahl said.

Staff members are supplied one face mask per shift and one face shield for the whole COVID-19 season…only having one mask is less than ideal.”

— RN Elizabeth Prodahl

Many community members have noticed this shortage and have taken matters into their own hands by making masks at home; however, there seem to be misconceptions surrounding mask donations.

“The hospital I work at does not allow homemade masks because the CDC has not approved it,” Prodahl said.

While citizens may not be able to donate homemade masks to hospitals, the CDC is encouraging people to make them for personal use, and instructions are provided on their website.

Support can be shown through donating meals, supporting GoFundMe pages, or extending personal assistance such as childcare if you know someone in the “essential workers” category. Regardless of how one does it, now is the time to show appreciation for the people that are working tirelessly to help our community during these unprecedented times.