News from the Hospital Front: A Little Soul II Soul and Back to Life & Reality

Wahoo‼️ DH is home … and it’s been wonderful 🥰 Thank you for all the love & well wishes 🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼 we’ve received, as it has been one tough April.

With everything that has happened in the past two months, it feels like March lasted 5 years while April feels like 10 years had passed. Anyone else feeling exhausted⁉️

Anyway, despite some intermittent shortness of breath and becoming easily exhausted, DH is doing really well. He is truly happy to be home and back in our bed. And Kirby Krackel is so excited that we can resume #OhanaCouchTime 🛋👩🏻🐶👨🏻 every night … although he was NOT very excited this morning when I reached for those blue scrubs.

Yep … that’s right. Today was my first day back to work. I was excited to be back just to finally see my work family and to thank them for taking good care of DH when I wasn’t able to be by his side. It was great catching up with them and seeing how everyone had been during the last TEN years.

I have to admit that I got winded easily; feeling a bit short of breath after climbing one set of stairs or just walking from one end of the unit to the other. Guess I need to do a little more cardio on my days off … (oh, who am I kidding 😏)

It was strange returning to my assignment after being off a month. When I reviewed my work queues this morning, a list of about 80-90 patients I had been following a month ago popped up on my personal work list. I would say about 5-10 patients were still hospitalized, while the others had already been discharged. It isn’t such a big deal to have that many people gone from the hospital setting, especially within the span of a month. The disturbing part was that out of those 70+ “discharged” patients, approximately two-thirds of those patients had expired. From COVID-19 related issues. That freaked me out.

Furthermore, out of the 16 patients I was following today, one was “downgraded” to a regular floor, while four were “upgraded” to the ICU tower (having been intubated & placed on a ventilator). And one patient expired. That’s one-third of my assignment. For ONE day. And this is approximately three weeks past our peak of COVID-19 admissions during this “wave.” In fact, up to the day I went out on medical leave it was absolutely crazy at The Mother Ship with all the COVID-19 admission, discharges, and deaths that occurred. I can only imagine how insane it was just before Easter, when we reached our “apex” for this wave of the current pandemic.

With that said, today I had a LOT of conversations with other work friends & family who also had been off for COVID-19. There was a LOT of discussion about the various symptoms we all shared. There was ALSO a lot of discussion about how Headquarters had handled / is handling all the medical leaves due to COVID-19. Those employees who were sent home to self-quarantine due to exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms before and at around the same time I left (March 30th) also complained about not being able to get tested to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. Yet those employees who went on leave shortly after I did were able to get tested through Employee Health.

In addition, those that HAD NOT received testing through Employee Health during the same period of time had also received the SAME email I received this Monday (April 27th). That email stated that my medical leave status, including pay and benefits, may be impacted if I didn’t call within 24 hours to schedule a COVID-19 test. So naturally, I was incredibly annoyed.

Seriously … This is what Headquarters is demanding of me? Now? After I asked several times. To get tested for COVID-19? And I was “politely” asked by Employee Health why I felt I *needed* to be tested? And now, A. MONTH. LATER. I’m being informed that my pay and benefits will be affected if I DON’T get tested? I mean seriously, WTF⁉️

Since I was finally symptom-free for more than 72 hours straight, I had already planned on calling Employee Health the next day April 28th (Tuesday, AKA yesterday) to get schedule a virtual return to work appointment. So yesterday morning, I called The Mother Ship’s Employee Health clinic to schedule that appointment. Next I contacted Headquarter’s Employee Health (as directed by the email) to schedule my COVID-19 testing. Of course, I asked why I needed the test now after I had been refused testing throughout my medical leave. I would think the test would likely be a “false negative” as the virus was (most likely) no longer replicating in my body. I also asked if I *really* needed a test, as I was getting cleared to return to work the very next day.

The answer I received from Headquarters Employee Health was that was they were now requiring that ALL employees placed on medical leave for COVID-19 symptoms be tested, regardless of time frame from when the symptoms first appeared.

So reading between the lines, I took it as:

  1. Headquarters now want the DATA so that they can keep an “accurate” count of ALL employee medical leaves for positive / suspected COVID-19 cases, so that 😎
  2. They only pay those employees 100% of their salary per Michigan’s COVID-19 Paid Medical Leave Executive Order, and
  3. They cover their 🍑🍑 if this issue should ever come up in court of law.

Too little, too late IMHO 🙄 Anyway, I managed to schedule an appointment at The Mother Ship for 3:00 pm this afternoon, as I knew I’d be at work.

Funny thing, though. Actually, two …

First, when I finally had my virtual appointment yesterday morning, I informed them that I already scheduled my mandatory COVID-19 testing for today. The RN clearing me for work told me that I didn’t need be tested, as she was clearing me for a return to work. When I explained to this RN about the email indicating that my pay and benefits would be affected if I didn’t get tested, she had NO idea what I was talking about. She told me that she would check with her supervisor, but to go ahead and keep my appointment for today.

Which I TRIED to honor this afternoon, and which brings me to the SECOND funny thing. I was directed to go to The Mother Ship’s “Drive Up” testing location when I scheduled this appointment. And because I was at work today, I walked my out-of-shape, COVID-19 (although never “formally confirmed”) -affected body to the entrance where I had driven DH on Easter Sunday to get tested. I figured that instead of testing me in a car, they could have me sit in a chair right outside of the entrance and stick that cotton swab up my nose and as close to my brain as possible to perform the test.

But NO … I was told that I had to get in my care and drive up to the entrance to get tested. After a series of “Are you serious?” and “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to do it here and now?” and even “I’m wearing a mask and you’re fully dressed up from head-to-toe in PPE” … I was told that there was no exceptions.

Then I told them that I would drive up after I officially got off work at 4:30 this afternoon. To which I was promptly told, “We close at 4:00 pm” 😤

As if that wasn’t a slap in the face, when I called Headquarters Employee Health to reschedule a testing tomorrow morning before I came into work, I was finally told I DIDN’T NEED TO BE TESTED as I had ALREADY BEEN CLEARED TO RETURN TO WORK 🤦🏻‍♀️

I swear … the BRAIN (Headquarters) has no clue what its LIMBS (The Mother Ship, et al) are doing.

And it makes me want to stick that damn COVID-19 nasal swab up another body orifice where the sun don’t shine, and frustrates me that I wasted a good hour (or so) trying to comply with Headquarter’s asinine requests.

I have MUCH more to say about being back at the Hospital Front, especially the emotional impact that COVID-19 has had on all of us frontline workers … but I will save it another post.

For now, I will leave y’all with a list of things I am most grateful for these days:

  1. DH is HOME‼️
  2. I still have a job 😬
  3. I am, for the most part, healthy 😊
  4. I have awesome friends & family both at work and throughout the world (thank you, social media!) 🥰, and
  5. DH is HOME‼️‼️

And … for my usual sign-off: For the love of all those Essential Workers out there that WISH they can — STAY. HOME.

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