Just as Florida’s healthcare system felt like it was getting a much-deserved respite, the corona virus Delta variant has once again ravaged Florida’s citizenry, this time by attacking the unvaccinated in our state.
Florida is averaging 6,500 new cases per day, a figure that has nearly doubled in one week and quadrupled in a month. By this measure, Florida tops California and Texas, having approximately 4,800 new cases per day.
This new surge will certainly have a significant and potentially harmful effects on Florida’s healthcare professionals.
In January 2021, four out of ten adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depression disorder – a staggering 400 percent increase from January 2019, a year before the advent of the corona virus. Health care professionals are particularly exposed. At least fifty percent of front line healthcare professionals will work with or treat COVID-19 patients in such a surge. And while the vast majority of the variant’s victims are unvaccinated, “breakthrough” cases do happen – further exposing even vaccinated nurses, doctors, and others to serious physical harm or even death. And to make things worse, the pandemic has been politicized and weaponized to support political agendas, fostering misinformation and distrust in science, government, and among ourselves.
Florida’s healthcare system is under siege and can feel like a cauldron of toxicity if practitioners aren’t taking care of themselves. Here are some suggestions to protect yourself from a legal perspective.
- Abide by existing your facility’s existing protocols.
- If you feel that your hospital or facility is not providing adequate safeguards or has misguided policies or protocols, make a record of your concerns. Put your concerns in emails and be professional, clear, and concise in your comments. Never send an email or text message in anger.
- If a situation requires immediate action, raise your concerns with a supervisor or human resources department and have a witness present for the conversation.
- Do not leave a facility or assignment under any circumstances without notifying supervisors or HR. You could risk an allegation of patient abandonment.
- If you feel stressed, seek professional counseling through your facility or an outside counseling group. There are privacy considerations in this decision and going to an outside group may be advantageous.
- Be conscious of your alcohol intake. Self-medicating with alcohol during stressful conditions is common and can spin out of control easily.
- While the use of marijuana has lost virtually all of its social stigma, recreational use is still illegal in Florida and a positive urinalysis will cause a complaint with the Florida Department of Health – even if you have a prescription. Even the use of cannabinoid-derived pain relief products, or CBD, can result in a positive urinalysis for THC and will result in DOH action.
- If you feel you need more serious assistance with mental health or addiction issues, or if you have been accused of having addiction or impairment problems, consult an attorney before seeking help. This includes participation in programs such as IPN or PRN. Such treatment is frequently extremely beneficial, but may also have lasting consequences on your licensure.
Above all else, guard your mental health diligently. Even the strongest among us occasionally need help, so be proactive in your approach.