Jones-Harrison infection preventionist: ‘We now have three confirmed cases that we are trying to contain’

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

Interviews are edited for length and clarity.

Barb Joyce, infection preventionist, Jones-Harrison senior living 

We now have three confirmed cases that we are trying to contain. I am in a battle to prevent illness and harm to the staff. 

I feel this is the tip of an iceberg that we are on. At the end of the day, I am saying, “Come on god, help me out.” Yet in the morning, I am angry that yesterday stole my power! I pray powerfully to god to protect those in most need of his mercy. I pray that we get through the day safely. I pray for those who are missing their loved ones. But mostly I pray for those in leadership roles to make decisions that are right and just to all people. Health care professionals are not expendable. Please pray for our community to prevent, to protect and to recover.

My daily routine is now a frustrating nightmare because of how forgetful I have become. I have lost my work keys — and forgetting things is not my normal — because I am focused on this virus.

The three residents are in three different units, so we have created an isolation unit to move anyone with positive results. We are screening every one of our residents every day and assessing for symptoms of COVID. We are catching fevers early before symptoms begin and testing early to contain early. 

It is difficult to determine how it was transmitted. Everybody from outside the facility is a risk, including staff. We are certain it can be transmitted before symptoms appear and asymptomatic carriers are my [suspicion] at this time.  

Unfortunately, some of our exposed nursing staff have developed symptoms after exposure and are having difficulty getting tested. This seems incredibly sad — that the testing is still hard to get. We are working with the Department of Health, and I am committed to getting the staff what they need and what they deserve.

I see the fear in the staff’s eyes and yet I’m so impressed they still show up to work. I am grateful for my co-workers and my friends. I am also grateful that I have waterproof eyeliner, as most of us no longer worry about makeup!

There have been some shining stars from our community outside our facility — people who ask, “How can I help?” We’ve received many cloth masks, made with love. We are so incredibly thankful. Chipotle also brought us lunch this week, and it lifted our spirits up.

I asked nurses this evening what they wanted non-health workers to know. One said simply, “It is the oath we took when we became a nurse.” Another added, “For better or worse.” Both of those nurses have agreed to a 16-hour shift today and still have smiles on their faces.

This is why I love my job, even in the worst of times. Today was a good day!


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

 You can read all of the stories here.