Staff nurse, Emergency Department, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadephia; American Nurse Association, Director-at-Large, Staff Nurse
April 6, 2020 (from Jennifer's Facebook post; used with permission)
A little over two weeks ago I became ill at work, eventually testing positive for #COVID-19. What started as a low-grade fever had me on the bathroom floor with confusing symptoms. The following days were both physiologically and emotionally difficult to endure.
As an ER nurse working in the frontline of #COVID-19, I have to admit that it’s not easy. Isolating myself away from my family makes it even harder. Thinking about my colleagues and their families makes it harder. Thinking about how broken our healthcare system is, leaving the most vulnerable behind, makes it harder. Seeing people disregard our advice or make light of the situation, makes it harder. Falling ill and picking myself up again only to return back to work knowing that others did not have the same privilege, makes it harder.
But today, I am thankful for my health. Thankful for the amazing people in my life who showered me with love and support, reminding me that I’m never alone. The reality that, I could lose my life doing what I love crossed my mind every day until I got better. I was scared. But I couldn’t find the courage to tell my family or friends because I didn’t want them to worry. The psychological stress this whole pandemic has on healthcare workers is inconceivable. We need more support. And I will not stop advocating for it.
Today, I get to put on my scrubs again. For that God, I am eternally grateful. I can breathe. I am well... I get to put on my scrubs again and continue to do what I love most in this world, be a nurse.
As COVID-19 began to impact the Philadelphia region, Jenn Gil began advocating for fellow nurses and PPE on social media and educating the public on COVID-19 through TV interviews with Univision. She soon developed symptoms of COVID-19 and subsequently recovered, returned to work and began telling her story. She was interviewed on April 9 by the local CBS affiliate and on April 10 for the J&J Nursing podcast See You Now: COVID-19 The Nurse Response “How are you really?”. In her social post sharing the podcast link she expressed her gratitude for being able to raise awareness about the emotional impact of the virus on mental health and well-being, noting, “We must encourage open communication for people to explore their emotions and share their vulnerability to support healing and eliminate the stigma about #mentalhealth. This a crucial step in order to prevent the negative long term impacts of COVID-19.”