National Nurses Week: A Time to Thank Those on the Frontline

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It's National Nurses Week – a week we all recognize nurses not only for their commitment on the frontlines of this pandemic, but also for the care that they provide every day of the year. PHOTO COURTESY/ SHOPIFY

Some nurses are calling sick patients to tell them the unfortunate news. Others are outside in tents taking temperatures. There are some wrapped head to toe in protective gear to prevent themselves from getting sick. Then there are some who, while helping others, have tested positive themselves for COVID-19. 

Nurses  around the world are risking their lives on the frontlines as they battle the virus that has taken over life as we know it. Their “new normal”  includes extending the life of their personal protective gear (PPE), working endless hours and making difficult decisions for those who are sick. 

This weekMay 6-12 is National Nurses Week. It is an opportunity for us to show these hardworking individuals our appreciation for their dedication and the care that they have continued to provide for all of us during these times. We should all recognize nurses not only for their commitment on the frontlines of this pandemic, but also for the care that they provide every day of the year. 

On an average day before the COVID-19 outbreak, a nurse might have seen  one to eight or more patients at a time. Today, that number is rising exponentially as the virus continues to spread across the nation. More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the CDC. All the while, some of the nurses who are seeing these patients first hand are struggling to get tested themselves

Large-scale companies across the U.S. are giving back to nurses and healthcare professionals by offering them deals on numerous services, from free meals and  drinks to discounts on their   e-commerce sites. Some companies doing their part include:

  • Nike: Twenty percent discount for one time use
  • North Face: Fifty percent off of all items (through Dec. 31, 2020)
  • Dunkin’: Free medium iced or hot coffee and a free donut on Wednesday, May 6
  • Airbnb: Free or subsidized temporary housing for healthcare professionals
  • Adidas: Forty percent discount with valid identification

We should all join these companies in appreciating nurses this week. It does not have to be shown through an extravagant gift or gesture, but a simple ‘thank you’ could be sincerely appreciated  by a nurse right now. It is truly the least we could do after all they have done for us. 

Abbygail Smith, a junior criminal justice major at St. John’s University,  knows several first responders and says she can’t imagine doing what they are doing right now. In addition to all that they experience on the job,  Smith expressed that nurses also have to worry about potentially   bringing the virus into their own home,  putting their own families at risk. “It’s not just the influx of people in hospitals,” she said.  

Smith said that experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic from home is hard enough, and she is grateful for those working on the frontlines, experiencing it firsthand.

“For all the nurses who have gotten sick,” she said, “it’s a shame but I’m praying for you, a lot of people are thinking of you, and I thank you.”

Tatiana Brown, a junior legal studies major at St. John’s, has many nurses in her family. She said they are working at Stony Brook University Hospital and still have their families at home. 

To those of us who are staying in our homes, Brown said to “just do your part too, and remember to have a little bit of compassion during this time.”

Just the other day, my mom and I ran to Walgreens to get my sister a graduation card. My mom, dressed in scrubs, was approached by another customer in the store. He asked, “Are you a nurse?” She was reluctant to say yes, because she was unsure whether he was going to be kind or shame her for being out in public with her scrubs on. When she finally said “yes,” he took a step back and said, “Thank you, thank you for all that you are doing for everyone right now.”

Right there in that moment, there was a sense of humanity. I could tell my mom was smiling under her mask, and that made me so happy. For people to recognize all of the hard work she is doing is a gift to her, and there are millions of nurses out there who deserve to  feel the same way  she did in that moment. 

While everyone is practicing social distancing  at home, these workers are waking up early to prepare themselves for the day ahead. Some are only bringing a sandwich bag full of essential items rather than bringing their usual bag. Some are not bringing any water or food to work to avoid the possibility of it being t exposed to any illness.

As most of us know, wearing a mask for  long periods of time may get uncomfortable. These nurses don’t take them off for up to 12 hours during one shift. Their faces have indents  on them from the masks, their bodies are sweating underneath the gowns and scrubs and their fingernails are breaking away from the gloves they wear as well. 

Regardless of who we are, there is a nurse out there who has impacted our own life or the lives of those we love. Their work should not go unnoticed. So, please use this six-day window to thank a nurse and remind them that we will get through this together.