“Saying “We can get through this!” is going to wear thin in the second month and it’s going to make you feel frustrated not only with the situation at hand, but with yourself as your optimism wanes. But saying “We can get through this, but it may not be quick and it’s not going to be easy, but we will get through it all the same,” doesn’t leave as much room for frustration, by adding in that realism, you add in the human element allowing for the stumbles and the bad days while still holding out hope.” suggests Chelsea Hawk, Administrative Assistant to the Chief Medical Officer and Medical Staff Office at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO.
Hawk, whose normal office duties include supporting the CMO by means of managing his calendar and projects, creating documents, and making sure his day to day tasks run smoothly, has, like many of us, seen a significant change in her daily routine since the COVID-19 pandemic. “Similar to everyone else, my life was completely turned upside down. I was first tasked with different odd jobs to assist the Incident Command, then I was officially placed on the team to help stand up our Telehealth program, a way for our providers to virtually visit their patients. We set up a system of nearly 400 providers across over 100 clinics in 7 days!” Four days into the program, she found herself not only as a team member, but as the project lead, in addition to being in charge of distribution of protective gear and alternative housing keys for providers who are unable to return home to their families during this time. The additional tasks have led to an extra 10-20 hours weekly, leaving little room for much more than a meal and sleep at home. “I am a sensory kid, so by the time I get home I am so overstimulated that I can barely do more than stare at the walls until I go to sleep. That being said, I am typically an avid reader and writer, but at the moment can’t find the energy or focus to do much of either. However, I have found that working on a jigsaw puzzle in the evenings helps me decompress. ”
No different than the rest of us, Chelsea has also seen a change in social interaction and relationships with family and friends. Fortunate to work alongside her mother at the hospital, she has been able to keep a relatively normal connection there, and manages to keep up with her siblings via social media and text messaging. When it comes to friendships, she encourages us all to reach out, and check in as often as we can. “What I’ve taken to doing on Saturday or Sunday mornings is finding five people in my phone and reaching out to them, with a simple message of “Are you doing ok? Anything you need?” This helps me keep in touch with my friends, both ones I speak to frequently and others I don’t check in as much as I probably should. Plus I like to think it reminds people that they are not alone in this period of isolation.”
A few insights Hawk has for us include the basics such as handwashing and proper safety precautions, educating ourselves with reliable sources, and being understanding of our healthcare workers. “My advice to you at home is first and foremost not to wear gloves. That only increases the risk of cross contamination. The best thing you can do is wash your hands. Secondly, don’t share articles or links that are not from a reputable source or have not been fact checked. Only share things that you would be comfortable using as a source on a school paper. Lastly, be gentle with your health care workers. We are exhausted and coming home to see the news we have been living all day makes our hearts hurt. While we feel for everyone like us, out there fighting the good fight, we need a place to escape it. Please don’t pepper us with a million questions about COVID-19. We will likely share anything we’ve learned that’s important on our own.”
Despite the dark shadows this pandemic may bring, Chelsea has tried to see the rainbows through the rain, and has found silver lining in humanity itself. “As we started social distancing, we’ve started doing video meetings and it’s so wonderful to see physicians and executives sitting in their homes, in their comfortable clothes, shooing away kids and pets reminding us that there is still life out there, that just because we are not allowed to be together or functioning as normal, we are not alone and the world has not ceased to exist. Furthermore, everyone wants to talk. I have had people that I have worked with for years but never really spoken to come into my office and strike up lengthy conversations about everything under the sun. I have cajoled a few of them into telling me jokes and I have told a few jokes myself. You can tell everyone is craving some kind of a connection and I am glad I have the opportunity to facilitate that.”
Hawk wants to remind us the importance of remaining optimistic and hopeful, while also keeping ourselves educated and informed. “On my desk at work, I have a post-it note that says “‘Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope,’ provides the context for examining the complexity of your reality while preserving your vision for what is possible.” That’s a paraphrasing of the “Stockdale Paradox” (look that up!). It basically means that you should temper your optimism with realism. And honestly, I think that is the key to coming out of this thing in one piece.”
Cardinal Glennon ( as well as hospitals in your area) could also benefit from mask donations, and pump hand sanitizer bottles. It has proven to be easier to get bulk bottles, but they are in desperate need of bottles to put it in.
If you would like to aid Chelsea and her team at Cardinal Glennon with a monetary donation, follow this link to their Urgent Response Fund.
Thank you Chelsea for your hard work and dedication!