Nurses are trained to be responsible stewards of resources. In today's healthcare environment, that means responsible use of scarce resources. With the influx of sick patients to the hospital during the pandemic, especially during surges associated with new variants, management of resources is critical. There are only so many bags of IV solutions, blood collection tubes, and heart monitors to go around. Poor stewardship declines the quality of care provided and leads to poor patient outcomes and even death.
Nurses get creative when there are not enough resources to share. In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a massive personal protective equipment, or PPE, shortage. Nurses need PPE such as masks, gowns, and faceshields to keep themselves safe while caring for sick patients. So what did we do to protect ourselves? We got resourceful.
We used trash bags to prevent pathogens from hitching a ride on our clothing.
We used paperclips to make masks fit tighter on our faces.
We made faceshields from headbands and plastic page protectors to protect our eyes.
We used what we had to get the job done.
Outside the hospital, I feel heartbreak when I look around at my community. The pandemic made the problems we already had worse- Evictions are on the rise (Hernandez, 2022); We are in the midst of a mental health crisis (Darcy, 2021); The number of Americans living without homes, in shelters, or on the streets continues to rise at an alarming rate (PBS.org, 2021).
Over the course of the past year, my sadness has turned to anger.
I'm angry county leaders refused to fund our rental assistance program.
Excerpt from this article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette
I'm angry our Crisis Stabilization Unit was shuttered.
Local news article here.
I'm angry we have human beings freezing to death in our streets.
Screenshot courtesy of a public Facebook post. Article about Ray and Amanda here.
Meanwhile, county officials are focused on expanding the county jail using $20 million of American Rescue Plan funds. The US Treasury clearly states that type of use for that funding is not allowed. Taxpayers (that means us) will have to pay that money back to the federal governement if the rules are not followed.
Slide from Vera Institute of Justice Presentation.
I believe if we are going to spend millions to feed, clothe, and house individuals, it should be outside prison walls. At present, county officials are not using what they have to get the job done.
We have the resources. We lack stewardship.
I am that responsible steward. I'm channeling my anger into positive action- by running for public office. I am Ash Lee Hicks and I'm a nurse running for Washington County Justice of the Peace for District 15.