20 Ways to Support Nurses & Healthcare Workers on the Front Lines of COVID-19
Nurses and other healthcare professionals need your help now more than ever.
If you’re at home reading this and your biggest worry is perhaps running out snacks or ahem, toilet paper, you’re definitely among some of the lucky ones in the country right now. Nurses everywhere are heading directly into the places that everyone else is trying to avoid — hospitals, urgent care facilities, and medical offices teeming with people who need care related to COVID-19.
Nursing students, too, especially those on the verge of graduation this spring, have had their lives completely upheaved. Some are turning to learn critical skills via virtual labs, some are praying they will still be able to graduate, and some are facing fears they may have been exposed to COVID-19 while in their clinical rotations.
With public health experts saying that the impacts of the virus are nowhere near slowing down yet, it’s more important than ever to support healthcare workers working on the front lines of COVID-19. Here are some ways that you can #SupportHealthcareHeroes and make a difference in the battle against COVID-19.
1. Tell congress to increase protective equipment for nurses, now. According to the American Nurses Association, nurses are being forced to take such drastic measures as reusing masks or making their own from available materials in their facilities – creating unsafe conditions for both nurses and their patients. This is unacceptable, RNs continue to work on the frontlines of this outbreak and should have the equipment needed to safely do their job. Tell your senator here.
2. Give nurses a social-media shoutout. Sometimes just being seen can go a long way in helping bolster someone’s spirits. Knowing you recognize their sacrifice and care enough to thank them could give an exhausted nurse in your life the strength to face another shift. Go here to download your photo and share it on social media.
3. Donate what supplies are available. In a story that is downright disheartening, a hospital in Washington, where the virus first hit, has resorted to making its own face masks out of office supplies. If you have any actual supplies — such as gloves, surgical masks, or hand sanitizer — please call your local healthcare facilities to see if they could use a donation. If not, ask what you can donate instead.
4. Don’t take masks or hand sanitizer from the hospital. This should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway. And yes, leave the TP, too.
5. Pay for their parking. In some areas, nursing students especially may be responsible for finding and paying for, their own parking. If you’re out and about at a local facility, add money to parking meters; if you’re practicing social distancing, you can try calling local nursing schools or facilities to see what the best way to pay for parking is.
6. Send 'em money through Venmo. No need to make it complicated — with options like Venmo and PayPal, you can easily send a donation to a nurse or nursing student you know. Whether they use it to help feed their family, or it just warms their heart to know someone is thinking of them, it matters.
7. Call a local unit to arrange for a take-out delivery. You will have to be careful here and be sure to work directly with a unit manager to arrange this, as COVID-19 can live on surfaces (even for 24 hours on cardboard) and some hospitals may not allow outside deliveries, but in the end, nurses have to eat! Any way you can help feed them so they can get back to work can make a big difference.
8. Help nurse parents with childcare. Many nurses are part of the “sandwich generation — the generation of people who are responsible for both caring for young children and older, aging parents. Those in the sandwich generation have shared the challenges this pandemic has presented, in rendering them feeling torn between the two responsibilities, both from decreasing the risk to their own parents and protecting and caring for their kids.
And nurses who face exposure every day and may be quarantined or mandated at work are at risk to feel the crunch even more. If you’re in a position to help, offer to ease a sandwich generation nurse’s burden through childcare or eldercare, even if that’s something as simple as dropping off supplies.
9. Cook them a healthy meal. You’ll want to be sure the nurse you’re cooking for is OK with this, of course, and that you have not been exposed to COVID-19.
10. Donate on GoFundMe. GoFundMe is teeming with people who need financial assistance in the wake of COVID-19. Check out:
- This page dedicated entirely to COVID-19 causes.
- Search and donate to individual causes, such as this nurse who is out of work while being quarantined for COVID-19.
- This St. Louis, MO nurses’ fund, organized by the UMSL Student Nurses Association.
- Feed nurses through this Washington, D.C. fund.
11. Leave some toilet paper on the shelves. Assuming you can even find any, of course. But, really, nurses work all hours — and, those of use coming off night shift need toilet paper too. And, by all means, don’t take the toilet paper out of the hospital bathroom (yep, that’s happening).
12. Drop off groceries, essentials, and supplies to their house. Know a nurse? Chances are they haven’t been able to do much shopping lately, and many online grocery ordering capabilities have been temporarily shut down as stores catch up and restock. Now could be a great time to see if any nurses you know need a few supplies dropped off to their house.
13. Help them with childcare. Nurses are parents too and, parents are nurses. While most people can stay home with their kids during this pandemic — nurses can’t. So, if you’re in a position to watch their kids you should definitely offer! Also, for nurses who need help with childcare, Sittercity, a company that provides families with the resources to connect with and hire local nannies and babysitters, has reached out and shared an initiative to help you gain better access to child care during these challenging times. They’re offering a month of premium membership for free on their platform to all healthcare workers. Go here to take advantage of this benefit.
14. Call ahead before going to the doctor. If you’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, like a fever or a cough, it’s extremely important that you do not rush to the doctor’s office for a test. First of all, there are limited testing kits available, so they may not even be able to test you. Secondly, COVID-19 is a virus, which means unless you are meet the CDC’s criteria for testing or experience complications, it’s best to stay home to recover and minimize spreading the infection to others.
15. Stay home . Although it can be hard not to want to jump and “do” more to help, right now, if you are able, one of the most important things you can do is simply stay home and practice social distancing. If you’re still unclear on why that’s important, read what flattening the curve means for healthcare workers.
16. Don’t have your children send notes to nursing homes. Unfortunately, that viral post about having your children flood local nursing home facilities, while well-intentioned, may spread more than just good cheer. A newly-released study has found that COVID-19 can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 3 days on plastic, so you may want to be extra cautious when sending mail to local immunocompromised people. A better tactic may be to call the facility and check on their policy first, or ask if they accept virtual cards and letters--your kids can still color and create cards, and then you can snap a picture and email it to the facility, who can print it out for their residents.
17. Volunteer with the Red Cross. The Red Cross is desperately seeking volunteers to assist with COVID-19 disease efforts, from delivering supplies to helping with blood drives and there are even at-home volunteer opportunities available too. Check the Red Cross site for more info.
18. Donate blood. The Red Cross is facing disastrous shortages of blood during this pandemic and is asking anyone who is able to consider donating blood. Find out if you’re eligible to give blood and make an appointment to donate here.
19. Thank your nurse. Nurses are the heart of healthcare - next time you see a nurse, thank them for their sacrifices. Better yet, share your words of encouragement here and we will send it to our community of over 20 million healthcare workers!
20. Remember that nurses are human too. And last, but not least, let’s remember that nurses are going through this with amplified challenges, just like everyone else. I will be the first to admit that nurses are our real-life versions of superheroes, now more than ever, but let’s not forget that they aren’t superhuman.
Nurses — especially those working on the front lines right now — deserve to be reminded that we recognize the hardships they are facing, the fear that just going to work is bringing them, and that no one expects them to sacrifice their own health for our own.