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Virginia ER Nurse Kellen Squire: “Things are bad in healthcare right now. We’re faced with the worst pediatric health surge in the history of our country.”

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by ER nurse Kellen Squire

Folks. Things are bad in healthcare right now. We’re faced with the worst pediatric health surge in the history of our country.

I worked in Pediatric Acute Care at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital in 2009, with swine flu and one of the worst influenza outbreaks I’ve seen- and I thought what I saw then was bad. So bad that Republicans were lambasting President Obama for letting a “pandemic go uncontrolled” and “putting our children in jeopardy”. But our current hospitalization rates are double- double- what 2009 was at its worst… and we’re still on the proverbial “rocket to the moon”, with cases screaming higher.

It’s bad. I’ve seen infants having to be flown across state for PICU beds. Pediatric patients put into adult beds. And the number of adult cases of influenza has been increasing exponentially as well.

Here in Virginia, the Governor and our House of Delegates never bothered to help emergency services recover from taking the brunt of the COVID pandemic- in fact, they did the exact opposite, making sure that any and all disease mitigation efforts were made illegal. I know that sounds bad, but I guess at least they didn’t spend the intervening months bragging about the budget surplus President Biden and Congressional Democrats gifted us while coming up with ways to gut the treasury via tax cuts, right?

… right?

Look. Asking emergency services to bear the brunt of the entire healthcare system- the everyday work we do in holding our community safety nets intact, being the primary way people connect to the healthcare services they need- with a surge of respiratory illnesses, the consequences of unchecked gun violence- another mass shooting happened in Virginia overnight, and our Governor insists on acting like the victims passed away mysteriously from an unknown cause that nobody could ever have prevented- and, alongside that, we’re asked to handle every other failure of our government to act to protect our people…

It’s just not sustainable.

It’s not.

But I’m not going to ask anyone here to not see their loved ones this Thanksgiving. People were asked to do that in order to give the federal government time to come up with the support and resources that we needed to protect our country’s citizens, and discovered they had a President and administration that was objectively pro-COVID.

Instead, please, I encourage you and your loved ones to:

  • Get a flu/COVID shot at the first opportunity
  • Make sure your family gathering has as good of ventilation as you can manage
  • PLEASE don’t go to a family event if you’re sick
  • Use exemplary hand hygiene
  • Stay out of the emergency department if you can help it, but if you can’t, please be patient with us while we try to make things work.

Thank you, thank all of you, for all the sacrifices you’ve made to keep those of us in emergency services afloat and intact to the greatest extent possible. Without you, we would have been sunk long ago.

Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse from Charlottesville, Virginia, running for the Virginia House of Delegates. Donate today and help us flip the bluest district the Virginia GOP still holds!

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