What should we do? Advice from a RN for decision making in a pandemic

 

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I’m not a COVID-19 expert. But I have some thoughts as a nurse and a Christian about what should be driving our decisions during this pandemic.

I work as a nurse case manager in a local hospital in Sun City. I also serve on staff with my church as a kids ministry director. I am also an enneagram type nine. If you know anything about my personality type, you know these current circumstances can drive a person like me to stay in PJ’s all day and take lots of naps, avoiding news and decisions. Thankfully I serve as an essential worker and am teamed up with a wise church staff that doesn’t allow me to hide my head in a pillow while the world suffers.

Scary realities have to be faced. Less than ideal circumstances have to be accepted. Hard decisions have to be made.

As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Arizona has become more alarming, I’ve had friends, team members and coworkers ask me for advice about various decisions they need to make. I don’t have any specific do’s or don’ts that aren’t already recommended by the experts.  But I do have a couple principals I believe should guide our decisions during this time. 

Check your motives

There are things that need to be done that will come with risk. And there are things that don’t need to be done that will lead to loss. Evaluating what must be done and what we must accept as loss requires us to examine our motives.

As a Christian, I am compelled to love my neighbor as myself. I believe that Christ is risen and will raise me from the dead. I don’t have to fear. But I also must not test God or be foolish. Loving my neighbor right now may mean staying home. It also may mean taking the risk to enter another’s home or letting them enter mine because of the necessity of the need.

As a nurse, I can’t stay home. I must do all that I can to prevent the spread of this virus and still go to work. Entering my hospital puts me at risk, but as one coworker said, this is our time.  I go to work not because the risk is low but because the well-being of my community depends on me showing up.

When trials like this come in our lives, it proves who we really are.  The decisions we make during this pandemic will expose the ethic that underlies our choices. If fear is motivating you, you may hoard supplies, or refuse to go to work when you’re an essential worker. But love may also be why you’ve purchased large quantities of toilet paper or water. Maybe love motivates you to supply the needs of your neighbors who aren’t able to go to the store.

In a letter written by Martin Luther to a friend during the bubonic plague, Luther sums up the motivation that should drive Christians in times like these:

In the same way we must and we owe it to our neighbor to accord him the same treatment in other troubles and perils, also. If his house is on fire, love compels me to run to help him extinguish the flames. If there are enough other people around to put the fire out, I may either go home or remain to help. If he falls into the water or into a pit I dare not turn away but must hurry to help him as best I can. If there are others to do it, I am released. If I see that he is hungry or thirsty, I cannot ignore him but must offer food and drink, not considering whether I would risk impoverishing myself by doing so. A man who will not help or support others unless he can do so without affecting his safety or his property will never help his neighbor. He will always reckon with the possibility that doing so will bring some disadvantage and damage, danger and loss. No neighbor can live alongside another without risk to his safety, property, wife, or child. He must run the risk that fire or some other accident will start in the neighbor’s house and destroy him bodily or deprive him of his goods, wife, children, and all he has. –Martin Luther 1527 , Whether One May Flee From Deadly Plague from the Davenant Institute 

Listen to experts

Friends have asked me questions like, “Is it OK to send a package if I have chronic respiratory issues?” And, “Is it OK to send cards and letters to those alone in hospitals and nursing homes?” And, “Is a drive-by caravan safe?” My answers mostly take us to what the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other local health experts say.

The agencies and people responsible for disseminating information about a pandemic like this may not have all the answers, but what they have is the best we have.

This week I overheard a friend opining that this pandemic is a conspiracy. With so much information coming out of the media, we are all watching and listening to even more opinions and voices than usual.  It’s hard to know what to believe and who to believe.  But as my pastor has pointed out, it is folly to fill in gaps of information with skepticism.

With this pandemic our norms are changing daily. What was OK to do last week is not OK this week. When it comes to gaps of information about what to do and not to do, we must trust that what the experts are telling us is the best thing we can do. And when it changes or we don’t understand, let’s fill in the gaps with grace. This is a place where as a Christian I again feel compelled to trust my God is in control. 

So, who are the experts? The World Health Organization, CDC, state and county health departments are the best source of information we have right now about Covid-19. We need to make decisions in accord with their advice, not our favorite news commentator or social media post.

Here are links to some credible authorities, and their answers to many of our questions:

 

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