Sunday Update

Every morning we wake to new headlines. Coronavirus cases skyrocketing to over 120,000 in the US, with death rates topping 2,000. Stories of lives taken – a 40-year-old nurse in New York, and the 35-year-old healthy bodybuilder in Miami that quickly succumbed to the disease. We live in communities we don’t recognize as we look at each other out of the sides of our eyes as we hurriedly shop for groceries, keeping our 6 feet of social distancing and holding our breath should anyone get any closer. Our children aren’t in school. Our spouses and significant others aren’t at work. The planes are flying empty or not at all. We have closed our borders to neighboring countries. And we have now eye’d our neighboring states with suspicion.

There is a pandemic sweeping our country and our lives. The pandemic I’m talking about is FEAR. And it’s defining us. And it’s beating us. We are better than this. And it’s getting in the way of what we came into this industry to do and who we pledged ourselves to serve.

Let’s let facts speak to our hearts and reset our attitude.

Fact 1 – For people 25 to 64, the fatality rate of the Coronavirus is 0.5%. That’s the vast majority of the people within the AccentCare family. It’s far more likely more of us will be taken by heart disease and cancer than the Coronavirus.

For those over 64, the fatality rate is 2.7%. And it only worsens with age and the multiple chronic conditions that come with it. Think of their fear at a time like this. Cut off from loved ones. Many living locked down in Assisted Living. Some on hospice without the comforting touch of family nearby.

Fact 2 – At least a quarter to half of the population will very likely become infected based on a study by infectious disease specialists. And I read that until we have a vaccine or 60% of the population is infected, the pandemic is unlikely to abate.

That means there’s a very good chance, whether on the job or at home, you or someone you know is going to get this virus.

My wife has the virus. It started almost two weeks ago with a dry cough. I’m in Texas. She’s in Connecticut with my daughter. Multiple times a day, we speak.
She coughs. Sometimes she’s tired. But she’s getting better.

The CDC has a fact sheet about COVID-19, and Fact 2 on that sheet states, “For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low.”

It’s going to soon move over the next several months from “Am I going to get it!!” to “I’ve had it and now don’t have to worry about it.”

This is not to understate the seriousness of this illness for many people who get this, it’s just to put it in perspective for us as people and health care workers.

Fact 3 – These quarantines, social distancing, and extra precautions we are taking now may do little to stop the eventual number of people infected, but is primarily being taken to slow the rate of infection so as a health care system and society we can keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed and save more lives.

In most cities, there are a limited number of hospital beds. Here in Dallas, there are almost 10,600 hospital beds and 1,300 ICU beds. As a community, what social distancing does is spreads out the use of these beds. For instance, if 40% of the population gets sick over a six-month time period, they will need twice as many beds as we currently have. But if we can spread the disease out over 12 months, we use just about 100% of the beds and can save more lives.

Fact 4 – How we react as people, communities, health care professionals, and an organization makes a difference not just on how many people get through this, but who we are on the other side of this.

This is a defining moment. Our patients need us more than ever. And we cannot let FEAR define us and stop us from doing what is right. Defeating FEAR is what we are called to do. The FEAR that stops our patients from letting us in their home. The FEAR that prevents us from giving all of ourselves. The FEAR that pulls us inward and causes us to retract from each other.

And when FEAR defines us and our actions, it wins. And the virus wins. Because it stops us as medical professionals and causes the damage to not be limited to what the virus did, but to what it stopped us from doing. That damage is multiples greater than what the virus can do on its own.

Fact 5 – AccentCare and its people will not be defined by FEAR.

I have seen great moments these last several weeks. The moments I talked about in my first video to you. Great people within AccentCare, giving all of themselves to their patients and each other. This morning I woke up to Morgan Matte from our Kennesaw office making baskets for the clinicians in her office. Last night it was a nurse – Liana Keatinge – from San Marcos, making sure one of her shut in patients had the food she needed.

These are the moments where our great people beat down FEAR. And in beating down FEAR, they beat down the virus.

Yes, many of us will get sick – whether on the job or in our communities.

And for the overwhelming majority of us, it will be mild.

Our patients, our communities, and our health system partners need us more than ever because many of them are being consumed by FEAR. And this pandemic of FEAR is more deadly than the virus.

We can stop FEAR. By taking care of each other, we give our clinicians the encouragement, support, and courage to take care of our patients. And by keeping ourselves and each other focused on the facts about this disease, we will overcome FEAR. We will do what it takes to protect and enable our people and serve our patients. And together, we can set an example for our communities and our profession.

We will beat FEAR, and we will beat the virus.

Steve