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Online Globally, Offline Locally, Taking Care Of Their Community

The Basement is a community of over 100,000 people, all with different dreams, jobs, talents and aspirations. While some plan on publishing books, are training for the Olympics, or starting their own clothing line, others within our community are health carers. They are quietly going about their work with little of the recognition and fanfare of their peers in other industries.

We are a global platform, with members all over the world. While our community comes together online, many are active and engaged offline in their local communities. They are taking care of those in need in their cities and towns.

We asked some of The Basement community members around the world from Canada to Germany who are currently working in frontline health services about their day to day experiences, how they were coping with the crisis, what they want the future to look like, and how we could help.

I’m holding up ok I guess, like all of us I am trying to just get on with this.

I coordinate and manage a large Advanced Therapeutics Clinic downtown in Toronto, this is basically a place where patients come in to be infused with “live” medication for conditions such as severe Gastro intestinal, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculatory and many more debilitating diseases. My job is to put the pieces in place to ensure the incredible nurses that I work alongside can do their job as effectively and safely as they can. I also handle all patient relations and ensure they have the best quality of treatment before, during and after their procedures and make sure that all the pieces are put in place so they can get the coverage they need for their treatment.

I get to work by subway. Every morning it has gone from being packed to the brim to maybe one/two passengers per carriage. The thought of a full carriage feels alien to me at this point, the way we live has become so normal so fast, that it’s all I can envision for the foreseeable future before things slowly progress and begin to change again. Work has become a lot more stressful and it has changed rapidly. The catch 22 to our clinic is that the nature of the medication these patients receive leave them immunocompromised. So these people who come in are at an even higher risk compared to the general population, it means the entire process has to be robust and seamless to ensure their safety. It weighs on me a lot, we are human at the end of the day and not process is without its flaws

Before I put on a mask or even sit at my desk, I have my temperature taken and double sterilise my hands. I then have to prescreen patients before they get to the front of the building, after this I work with a compound pharmacy to ensure the biologic they are going to be infused with is prepared and delivered. This is just the bare basics, but with all that has changed I was responsible for changing the entire standard operating procedure for anyone entering the clinic. Once we are open things look after themselves but co-ordinating the appointments with the now limited seats we are down to is another balancing act being thrown to the mix.

I’m conflicted leaving work every day. I always feel like there was more I could have done but at the same time I know I have to get home ASAP because the physical act of me even being outside can increase one if not many peoples chances of contracting Covid-19, we all have a role to play.

Right now, my partner is immunocompromised and the prospect that I have to leave for work everyday means that if she ends up becoming ill , it is entirely my fault. It is a stress that is forever in the back of my mind.

Coupled with this whole situation, my visa expired earlier this month and I am in the processing of trying to work something out. It really is not an ideal situation to be in and there is an added pressure to this Coronavirus situation. My mother is terminally ill and home in Dublin alone (I am only child) so it really is coming from all angles right now.

I understand that I have a role to play. I understand that life does not come to a halt because just because our everyday life has come to an almost screeching standstill.

I guess what is driving me are the phenomenal nurses I work alongside and the relationships with the patients that I have come to form. I know these people, their families, friends and children. I see how badly a lot of these people need our help and if that means I can play a role in helping to maintain somebody’s health/quality of life then I know what I have to do. These people take a huge risk leaving their houses coming to the clinic, the facilitation of their well-being is the absolute minimum I can do to respect that.

Be mindful that you have a home and have a quality of life that does not require you to be in hotspots where you are at risk of being exposed and infecting the ones you love. I could not imagine being homeless or stuck in foreign country that is locked down with the uncertainty of what you will have to do to get by with the added risk of Covid-19. This disease does not discriminate and our most vulnerable.

Second, our essential workers are the life blood of our communities right now. Stay at home and minimize the risk for us all. I can promise you none of these people on the frontline want to be remembered as martyrs

To be honest from all this , all I want to personally see is how much awareness we need to put in buying local. It’s these businesses we might easily overlook but truth be told I think we can all agree that we would hate to see go.

Let’s not indulge in social media to get our information about how to deal with COVID-19. We should use social media as a tool for dealing with the situation presented to us by COVID-19 . We must only look to health officials as accredited bodies when it comes to information on the virus itself. By doing that we can maintain a clear and concise way to approach this as a community.

Besides spending every minute in my room or the hospital I‘m working in I‘m actually feeling good.

I used to be a male nurse from 2015-2019 until I got accepted to a medical school in late 2019. As soon as we got the info that the German government decided to shut down universities and schools, I applied at my old hospital to support them during the corona crisis and got accepted instantly to work in a special corona unit which used to be a regular intrinsic station before. At the moment I‘m working part-time (60%) to also keep up with my university‘s learning material.

When I‘m driving to the hospital I‘m listening to podcasts to get informed about the latest COVID-19 case numbers provided by John Hopkins University. That way I‘m starting to get in my “work mindset”

At work we are checking the patient‘s vital parameters (body temperature, blood pressure, heart ratio, breathing frequency, oxygen saturation) and ask for symptoms such as coughing or dyspnea. The medical stuff have to wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, a waterproof apron, a surgical cap, a splash protection, some safety goggles and FFP2/FFP3 face masks. That part is really time consuming as most parts of the PPE have to be changed when you go from one patient to another. Due to temporary shortage of certain PPE the guidelines on what PPE has to be taken off after having contact with a patient changed regularly. The complete staff of the corona units are tested for COVID-19 once a week via smears. Some of us have been tested positive already and went from being a part of the staff to being one of our patients.

When I come home from work, I usually do not shower as I am taking hygienic standards really seriously (especially hand hygiene). But during Corona time I shower before and after work. I‘m also staying at my parent’s house where I spend most of the time in my room as I want to decrease the contact to my parents and also the risk of a potential virus spread.

One of the biggest challenges for me is keeping up with the even higher hygienic standards. Also a big point is to make sure the patients are feeling well while being isolated. At the moment the patient’s friends and relatives are not allowed to visit the hospital therefore physical ill people could be getting the feeling to be even more isolated. The saddest part is seeing people die alone without their closest ones around. It‘s also concerning to see “younger” people’s lifes (without any significant pre-existing conditions) depending on ventilators in intensive care units.

I‘m really happy to see that Germany‘s health care system is able to keep up with the cases at the moment. Furthermore not every patient at our corona station is a confirmed COVID-19 case. Most of the people are here because of the suspicion of COVID-19 and it turns out that there are probably more pneumonia, influenza and other diseases that affect the respiratory tract than COVID-19 cases (that does NOT mean that COVID-19 is more or less harmful than a normal influenza virus!).

To the people reading this at home, do yourself a favour and re-evaluate whether it‘s necessary or not to meet your friends or family at the moment. Download houseparty, drink together via FaceTime or look for dates AFTER corona time on Tinder (and don’t forget to use some funny copy paste to enter a conversation). Just stay home if possible and practise hand-hygiene by washing your hands or using proper disinfectant.

That is a tough one. In my eyes we should care more about the environment but I don‘t know if that is a suitable answer. I just hope that the corona crisis and quarantine shows us how precious it is to live in freedom.

You can help us the most by raising awareness. Think about the fact that people are risking their lives and therefore their health just to safe yours. When it‘s election time you might also have a small look on what certain parties say about the NHS, appropriate payment and good working conditions for medical staff. Clapping alone cannot change the circumstances or a whole system but the awareness that is raised by that can.

Not going to lie this past month has been pretty rough for me as a first year nurse student, because of the pressure  and the instability of where you are going to work, as a student you could be placed in a retirement home to help taking care of the elderly, you could be asked to clean services where patients with Covid-19 are, you could be placed anywhere anytime and it’s not up to you, you are asked to do it plus you have the studies on the side you don’t know if you passed or not as the finals are postponed and they give us practically no answers and of course it impacts on your mental health too and your social relations.

I’m a first year nurse student, so i’m asked to do anything I can legally do with my title of student.

I don’t really fear this virus because I apply the hygiene recommendations , I wear a mask and a uniform that I clean or throw away everyday coming back from work, so going to work isn’t a fear for me but i’m obviously relieved when i get home.

I miss my social life, love life. Most of the biggest challenges are mental. It’s just that you have to stay strong everyday because it’s your job and I feel like we don’t have the right to be sad or emotionally tired.

Don’t neglect anybody, if you know somebody in this kind of job talk to them, sometimes we need someone to talk to, of course we have friends, coworkers, lovers but sometimes talking with somebody that you are not used to talk and who is open to the discussion, ready to hear you is all we need.

More budget in the healthcare system, here in Europe we have free healthcare but it’s not the case everywhere and it should be mandatory.

An ear to talk to, make donations to hospitals, fundraisers etc