To All Front-line Healthcare Workers: Thank You

Samuel Kirton avatar

by Samuel Kirton |

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When I see an adult acting out in public, I find it annoying. If a front-line healthcare worker asks you to properly wear a mask in a clinical setting, please adjust your mask.

Complaining about the rules and overreach of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to the receptionist is uncalled for. Throwing your identification and insurance card onto the counter is unnecessary. Pulling your mask back down when you turn away from the counter demonstrates your complete lack of empathy for every patient and healthcare worker in the clinic. Creating a disturbance that disrupts the clinic’s operations is unacceptable.

Here in the United States, the requirement to wear a protective mask has been lifted in many locations and situations. It has not been lifted in medical facilities or offices. This is consistent with CDC guidance. In each healthcare facility I have entered over the past two years, signs are prominently posted at entrances requiring all persons to wear a face mask while in the facility.

As a patient diagnosed in January 2017 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and who received a bilateral lung transplant in July 2021, wearing a mask indoors is not an option for me because I am immunosuppressed.

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Howling for Healthcare and Hospital Heros

Be kind to healthcare workers

Anyone who is in a patient-facing role in healthcare today deserves an individual round of applause. Unfortunately, over the past year, I have witnessed several instances where front-line healthcare workers were mistreated and even verbally abused by the patients they are caring for.

This is happening to front-line workers at every level, from the screener at the front door to the surgeon in the operating room. They have had over two years in a workplace environment where the COVID-19 pandemic has required them to adopt a variety of practices not only to protect their patients but also themselves.

Despite this, they continued to show up to provide the necessary care that helped their patients through this pandemic.

What happened?

Over the past 10 years, the ability to engage in civil discourse seems to have been misplaced and perhaps lost. People espouse their expertise on a variety of topics even if they are only marginally familiar with them. I find that the pandemic has amplified some of those voices, taking them from the keyboard and out into public.

I wish I could tell you that the opening of this week’s column was a collection of events I have witnessed over time; sadly, it was not. It didn’t happen in a pulmonary fibrosis clinic, but it was in a clinical setting.

Making a difference

To the front-line healthcare worker, regardless of your role, thank you! I know I could not have done as well as I have on this journey without you.

During the past five years, I have been witness to thousands of interactions, and most are positive experiences for both the healthcare worker and the patient. In even the more difficult interactions, I see healthcare workers attempt to work with a patient and deescalate a situation. It simply adds another stressor to their role.

When I see some of the more difficult interactions, I try to consider what the person may be experiencing to cause that behavior. That doesn’t make it OK, but it might provide some insight into their stress.

In each instance, these front-line healthcare workers demonstrate the ability to move to the next patient and still provide the most compassionate care and attention.

Please thank the healthcare workers. Any one of us in the rare disease community can be a bright spot in their day. It lets them know they have made a difference in our day.

I try to be sure to say thank you, even after a difficult procedure. It is how I can ensure every front-line healthcare hero knows they are helping me make every breath count.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

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