“I support our health workers.”
The above is a common refrain I’ve heard while the United States has grappled with the coronavirus.
I agree with the sentiment—I think our health workers should be supported. However, I also recognize that all too often, this refrain does not turn into action. Often, we say “support our health workers” but then act in ways that show anything but support for our health workers.
But how can we support our health workers? I propose a few suggestions:
- If you aren’t doing so already, wear a mask or some other protective face covering and practice social distancing. These two actions are widely proven to contain the spread of the coronavirus. If people performed these two actions, we would keep our health workers from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
- Assess the needs of the health workers where you live, and act accordingly. Speaking as someone who witnessed how difficult things were with the coronavirus in New York City, the needs of health workers were varied—at one point it included everything from equipment to food to funds for childcare. I can’t speak for what the needs are of health workers in places like Miami or Houston, but I strongly urge you to assess the needs of health workers where you live and act accordingly.
- If there are murmurs of a hospital closing down near where you live, do all you can (within reason) to protest the closure. There is a great deal of concern about the financial strain that many hospitals are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. As such, there is also concern about the potential of hospitals closing. The closure of hospitals would put more strain on the hospitals that remain, and therefore the health workers who remain. As such, I urge readers to protest any proposed hospital closures in your area.
- Support legislative efforts to reduce the financial burdens that our health workers have. From current childcare costs to past student loan costs, there are a multitude of financial burdens that many of our health workers have to deal with. Given the stresses involved with trying to deal with the pandemic, we should try to minimize other sources of stress, such as financial burdens. This is where I would recommend actions such as urging your member of Congress to support legislation to forgive student loan debts for frontline health workers during COVID-19.
- If you have a friend who is a health worker, listen to what they have to say. Don’t blow off your friend. Don’t minimize the experiences your friend had. Just listen to them.
These are just a handful of ways that you can support our health workers during COVID-19. Are there other ways we should consider supporting health workers? If so, please leave a comment below!
 I understand that some people have a difficult time with masks for health reasons. However, for many, there are other types of face covering, such as face shields, that may work better for you than a face mask.