Nurses Under Pressure
Since the pandemic rocked the world in late 2019 — early 2020, many people worldwide find themselves navigating the most difficult of circumstances in their social lives, their careers, and their wallets. Many people have lost their jobs due to the safety precautions taken to slow the spread of the virus. But the people who have fought this virus head-on are impacted in a much different way.
Benjamin Lilly, a 4th year nursing student at the University of Northern Colorado has seen this impact first-hand.
“I am working at the local hospital, NCMC right now as a nurses aid. And I’ve been doing that since March,” Lilly said, referring to Northern Colorado Medical Center.”
Since March, the pandemic has become further polarized. There are those that want to open up the country, despite the impact that might have on the spread of the virus.
Since working at the hospital, Ben has been surprised to see the nurses’ focus on the economic impacts of the virus just as much, if not more than the health aspects.
“There are hospitals that run, and they want to make a profit. And at the end of the day, COVID patients don’t make hospitals money,” Lilly said.
The high cost of caring for these patients, as well as the ever-changing guidelines have caused hospitals across the country to lose money. And the nurses are feeling these impacts.
Like everything else in our society during the pandemic, nursing has become politicized. Everyone’s view of the best course of action is also tied to their political beliefs. Ben explained this divide.
“There’s a responsibility to take care of people when they’re sick but at the same time, where are we gonna get this money — you have to pay for the care,” Lilly said.”
In order to provide the best care, hospitals shouldn’t have to worry about turning a profit. This is only an extra stressor on the nurses that takes away from care that the patients receive. This can also lead to corner cutting in care just to keep costs low.
This is an example of how the importance of economic profit has become the primary goal to any money making business, and how that can actually hinder them in completely filling their societal need, instead focusing on money.
This politicization has also changed how nurses are treated in hospitals. Ben mentioned that a lot of nurses feel un-satisfied with their work when people are not thankful or un-accepting of the care because of their political beliefs.
The United States’ focus on short term economic success has not only halted the process of slowing the spread of the virus, it has also shifted the way that nurses view their jobs. Instead of focusing on how they can give the best care to their patients, nurses have been trained to weigh the economic price of their actions.
Because of these norms, for some nurses, the political and personal impacts of the pandemic are more important than the health aspects.
“I have five sons. I haven’t seen them in almost a year because of this virus. No one is gonna tell me that I can’t sit down and have a meal with them,” Lilly said, quoting one of the nurses he works with.
COVID-19 has made clear the issues that the privatized health care system in the United States has. It has forced an economic focus on hospitals, taking away from their ability to properly care for their patients.