LIMA — Frontline healthcare workers in the war against COVID-19 face another battle after their day is over: Protecting their loved ones from catching the new coronavirus.
Hannah Brenneman is an intensive care nurse at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center who works in the hospital’s acute and step-down COVID-19 wards.
“We’re in the hospital, and the minute we walked through those doors were potentially exposed and then when we go home, even though we have the PPE and all the procedures in place at the hospital — and it’s brilliant — but when we go home, we have to go through our own decontamination process just to keep our families safe. This is something that’s a concern for all of the healthcare workers right now that are dealing with this,” Brenneman said.
“I’m doing good,” Brenneman said. “My husband’s very supportive. We have our own little system. I come home, he helps decontaminate and it’s working for us as long as I had the supplies to do it.”
Her process includes taking a shower when she gets home and cleaning the entire bathroom when she’s finished with it. She wipes down her car seats, steering wheel, anything she’s touched, as well as her nurse supply bag. When she gets to the door of her home, she leaves her shoes on the porch and sprays them with disinfectant. Her husband meets her at the door with an in-house bag. On her way to the shower, her scrubs go directly in the washing machine, and she tries not to touch anything in the house but makes a mental note to circle back and disinfect it later, if need be.
Simply put, healthcare workers use a lot of supplies to clean their homes and do laundry daily. Brenneman said she was shocked at how quickly she used paper towels, for instance.
Brenneman and Erin Hicks, a nurse at the Institute for Orthopaedic Surgery/Orthopedic Institute of Ohio, have started collecting cleaning supplies for frontline healthcare workers to use at their homes.
“It started with me talking to some of my nurses that I work with at the ICU. They were all just saying, ‘I don’t have any wipes. I don’t have any hand sanitizer. I don’t know where to get it. The shelves are empty. What do we do?” Brenneman said.
She asked her father, and his pastor put up a donation box and his church made a donation to the ICU.
“This was so well-received by our ICU girls that I wanted to do it for all the other units and staff members that were in contact with the COVID-19 virus, so I reached out to a few churches and in the last two, three weeks, I’ve been collecting donations. I’ve been able to make a really actually pretty large donation to the whole staff for St. Rita’s,” Brenneman said.
They’re looking for donations of sanitizing sprays, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, bathroom cleaners, paper products and laundry detergent.
While Hicks isn’t dealing directly with COVID-19 patients at IOS/OIO, she still takes the necessary precautions when dealing with patients.
“From a personal standpoint, we’re doing okay. There’s always a worry because I’m dealing with the public. IOS is kind of different because we do elective surgeries. Our day-to-day practices at work have changed — just wearing the masks and being protected. But even coming home, I get in my car and I basically, I have hand sanitizer and I wipe down everything with Clorox wipes,” Hicks said.
Hicks knew Brenneman from working together previously at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.
“I was just talking to her to see how she’s doing because we were friends and she had a need and I’m like, I know someone who can probably help. My husband and I put a little video out asking our friends if they have stuff to donate to protect the frontline workers at home,” Hicks said.
“We will continue to support and pray for all those serving our community bravely, like Hannah and her colleagues,” said Bryan Bucher, pastor of Shawnee United Methodist Church. “Jesus calls us to love our neighbor. The church is humbled to get the opportunity to practice our faith in this unique way, in this unique season.”
The supplies collected will help not only Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center but also those frontline workers at Lima Memorial Health System.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.