COVID-19: Avoiding Inaction in the Face of Fear

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Paula Erwin-Toth, RN, MSN, FAAN

Hello to my wound care colleagues around the world. As I write this blog, the news relating to the results of COVID-19 continues to provide evidence of the profound impact this pandemic has had on those suffering from the disease and the negative impact shut downs and quarantines have had on the health of people with chronic illnesses. We, as health care providers, are under tremendous stress as many of us have been re-deployed to maintain and support the overwhelming challenges of front-line health care providers serving patients with COVID-19. We, too, are on the front lines helping to maintain skin integrity in critically ill patients who are often intubated and placed in the prone position. The physical, emotional, and financial strains on patients, health care providers, businesses, and governments are going to affect us for years to come.

Facing Our COVID-19 Fears

A quote from former President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) comes to mind. During his first inaugural address in 1933, he famously said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." At the time, there was a worldwide depression, fascism was working its way into mainstream politics, and inaction by the previous administration was making a bad situation worse. It is natural for the "fight or flight" response to kick in when someone is faced with a seemingly overwhelming challenge. FDR's statement in that speech intended to impress upon people that inaction in the face of fear was giving over control, leading to apathy and a spiraling despair. If there is one thing at which all health care providers excel, it is mobilizing our resources to meet patient care needs. Unfortunately, at the start of this pandemic the level of contagion and morbidity and mortality of persons contracting the disease was not well understood. Those of you serving on the front lines caring for these patients found yourselves without adequate protective equipment and an overwhelming workload. These conditions still exist in many places where the spike in COVID-19 cases is occurring. Many of our colleagues have lost their lives after caring for patients with COVID-19. Just recently it was reported that a father and son, both MDs, died as a result of being infected while caring for their patients.


COVID-19 Wound Care Center
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Where does this leave us? Wound care providers have been scrambling to post blogs, videos, and other response material to help communicate what they have determined to be "best practices" when caring for patients with COVID-19. This has understandably been our priority during the past months, but where has it left our patients with or at risk for chronic wounds? A report today out of Italy noted a dramatic increase in leg amputations in people with diabetes whose conditions were not controlled during the lockdown at the peak of their pandemic.

Share Your Experiences

We want to hear from you. Please take the time to comment and complete this short survey to share your experiences as a clinician and patient advocate during these challenging times. The results of the survey will be shared in my next post, where I'll discuss some of the responses.

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About the Author
Paula Erwin-Toth has over 30 years of experience in wound, ostomy and continence care. She is a well-known author, lecturer and patient advocate who is dedicated to improving the care of people with wounds, ostomies and incontinence in the US and abroad.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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