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Every time I go home, it crosses my mind that, if someone in my family gets ill, it’s likely because I brought that home. And that is kind of a heavy thing to think about. But at the same time, this is my job. I love my job. I love taking care of people. I love helping people. I love the patients that we see here and the work that we do, and I really believe in it. And I think that it’s worth it. It’s worth the risk to try and help maintain the safety of our community and individuals in our community.
My parents had been visiting from Washington State. They had been with us for about three weeks, and it was right at the beginning. It was late February and the very beginning of March. And I was in clinic, and I think it was a Monday. That was the first day where we had a patient come in who was really sick, and we had just come up with our protocol. And we isolated the patient, and I got in my full PPE, and I went in and saw them. And they were sick. I ended up sending them to the emergency room—there’s an emergency room just a couple blocks away—I sent them to the emergency room for testing. We couldn’t test at that point. We got them on their way. And I just fell apart a little bit because all of a sudden I felt like—that was, for me, the moment when this became very real. I realized that I was scared because there was so much that we didn’t know, and I was scared for that patient.
And then the other thing was that I went home that night and sat down with my parents and said, “I love you, and you have to leave.” Because it was that moment where I realized that I really do put the people in my life at an increased risk. So that was probably the hardest day for me.
After the kids went to bed, my dad and I were sitting up talking, and he said, “I knew that you were worried, but today that I saw that this is really scary, isn’t it?” And I said, “yeah, Dad, it is.”
So that was kind of the moment that I felt like the focus kind of narrowed, and I was like: This is big, and this is important. And this is going to change a lot for a lot of people.
I also think being a nonprofit and taking care of the population that we do, we don’t charge our patients. We don’t bill our patients. And so for us, this is a precarious time because who knows what finances will look like for clinics like us? Who knows what kind of funding there will be for clinics like us? So, that’s in the back of all of our minds too, because we want to be able to keep doing the work we do.
Jerrica Kallio, FNP-BC, CPNP-PC Community Advanced Practice NursesAtlanta, GA