- I quickly learned that there were close to 1,000 nurses sitting in a hotel in Manhattan waiting to be assigned to a hospital.
- The goal of my documentary was to chronicle stories of the healthcare workers on the front lines and tell the story of their lives and experiences through this time.
- The healthcare providers that are ready and willing to jump in and assist are being benched.
I initially began my interviews with nurses and nurses’ assistants from around the United States the week of April 5th. I felt restless and kind of bored. I felt that there was something more that I could be contributing during this pandemic even though I was not armed with an essential skill. I had a phone, a camera, and a computer. My travels had come to a screeching halt, my events had ceased to exist, and I knew that I wanted to document what was happening in real time. So I began my research for my Pandemic documentary.
I was a member of a group of medical professionals on social media and had access to people from all over the US and the world. I began reaching out with posts and DM messages. By the end of the week of March 10, I had forged a network of nurses that were willing to speak about their experiences of being hired and laid off during this pandemic.
I quickly learned that there were close to 1,000 nurses sitting in a hotel in Manhattan waiting to be assigned to a hospital. The thought of that visual sends waves of anger through my body as images of nurses and doctors wearing trash bags, crying out pleading for help and back up scans through my memory. “How could that be?” I asked. I got off the phone and felt naive, sad, caught off guard with an overwhelming feeling of disbelief.
As the interviews kept coming in, there was a similar tone and story that I was hearing. The goal of my documentary was to chronicle stories of the healthcare workers on the front lines and tell the story of their lives and experiences through this time. Little did I know that there was more to it. “The suits control the scrubs” one nurse from Minnesota said to me one evening. I asked, “What did that mean?”
“This isn’t new,” she said. We have seen this with Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. As there is an underbelly of greed and unorganization during these events. Contracting nurses and having them sit in hotels because their paperwork is not being processed fast enough is part of the reality to this event.
Calling on newly graduated healthcare workers or retired healthcare workers in place of active workers is another source of frustration for people on the front lines; and people that are willing to drive from Texas to New York to be turned around and rejected as one nurse tells it. Are the “suits” in this equation profiting and taking advantage of the system? It remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, the healthcare providers that are ready and willing to jump in and assist are being benched.
“This is kind of like the Marines not jumping in during a war. The nurses are the Marines and we are sitting this war out.” – Lauren Leckliter RN, MSN AGACNP candidate, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.