IPCWell - Infection Control Consultant & Expert - United States

In the wake of all the challenges we are facing, and seemingly so much tough news out there, I would love to share some much-needed good news. My work takes me to many nursing homes around the country, and last week, walking through the door and facing the employee and visitor screening process, I notice something is different. It takes me a moment to realize what exactly it is, but then it hits me. The staff are not wearing eye protection. For months, we have been wearing surgical masks and a face shield 100% of the time. For months, the county rates have been over 10%, sometimes reaching as high as 19%. The difference today means there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I am filled with gratitude and hope. The facility has been COVID-free with staff and residents for 31 days; therefore, they were given clearance from the state that a simple face covering was sufficient source control protection. Things are once again moving in the right direction.

I notice the atmosphere is different; people seem happier. I’m happier. I’m seeing the staff’s face for the first time without being covered with a face shield. When I ask Heather C., Director of Nursing, what it is like for the staff not to be wearing the face shield anymore, she smiles. “It’s a breath of fresh air. The staff morale is higher. People in the community have no idea how much wearing PPE all day affects us.” As the face shield has been the normal daily attire for almost a year, when her staff received the news that the face shields were no longer required, they actually cheered.

I asked her staff if they could imagine a day when masks weren’t required. Because of everything they have faced in the past year, they respond with skepticism, asking me if I really think this is possible. I reassure them that one day, yes, this is possible. With the vaccination, we have a weapon to fight this enemy and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have experienced similar situations at other facilities, and as rates are going down, we see not only the vaccines helping, but the efforts of all the healthcare workers and facility staff finally paying off.

Gratitude and hope. I am grateful to all the healthcare worker superheroes out there who have been fighting this fight, and I am hopeful that we will get through this. Be safe and be well.

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis