“We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union”1 must reach deeply into our inner selves, embrace our families, virtually embrace our extended friends, colleagues, and all individuals throughout the U.S. and collectively embrace the concepts of HOPE to enable the collective ‘us’ to emerge from this pandemic physically and mentally whole. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every fragment of our every-day lives. We must believe that there is Hope and that we, the people, will prevail. However, we must take ACTION NOW to assure that our Hope becomes our reality.
Definitions of the word hope vary. As nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, nurse anesthetists, and all advanced nursing health care professionals, we know the value of hope for our patient’s ability to fight through major illnesses. In this pandemic, a meaningful definition of hope is “…to want an outcome that makes your life better in some way. It not only can help make a tough present situation more bearable but also can eventually improve our lives because envisioning a better future motivates you to take the steps to make it happen.”2 If we, as leading members of national health care teams in every setting, encourage the people of the U.S. to embrace this definition of hope, and clearly inform our elected leaders of the concepts of hope, it may shed the light that leads us out of this current darkness. It is imperative that we have a national strategy to address this current out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. As healthcare professionals, we know, with certainty, that EVERYONE must embrace the public health mandates: wearing masks at all times, social distancing, handwashing and intensive cleaning of all possible contaminated surfaces, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and appropriate quarantining and/or isolation. To achieve the goal of emerging from this pandemic, we need national mandates to change current behaviors that impede the attainment of the goal to emerge from this pandemic physically and mentally whole. Healthcare professionals are baffled with current rulings, in some states, where judges are permitting the people to ignore public health strategies that are clearly in the interest of the health and well-being of all.
We are a Free Country, and we deeply value that freedom. But misguided ‘freedom’ that ignores the science supporting public health measures is selfish and harmful to each individual, our children, our families, our friends, our national neighbors who are clearly suffering significantly in every state throughout the U.S. We must ask and answer: how can we emerge from this pandemic ‘physically and mentally whole’ when, thus far, almost a quarter of a million human beings living in the U.S. have lost their lives in this pandemic. Whether it is the totality of this number that impacts our emotional health or the fact that each and every one of us has personally experienced or knows someone who has experienced the pain that accompanies the loss of a loved one, we are all adversely affected.
Additionally, for those individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, we are concerned for their physical well-being. The long-term outcomes of this horrific disease are clearly unknown. Only time will inform us, through detailed data collection and analysis, of the true impact of COVID-19 on the overall health and emotional well-being of each individual who has been infected and recovered.
“Hope is predicated on the assumption that individuals possess: (a) the capability to envision, set, and believe in their ability to achieve goals… and (b) the ability to devise strategies that lead to the attainment of their a priori envisioned goals.”3 It is time that, we, the 40 million nurses in the U.S., collectively add our voice, loudly and clearly, that we need a change in national public health policies NOW and that healthcare professionals need to lead the way.
1. Preamble We the People, U.S Constitution. (Signed September, 17, 1788. Ratified, June 21, 1788). Accessed November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/preamble
2. Why is hope so important? Hope Grows. Accessed November 15, 2020. Retrieved from https://hopegrows.net/news/why-is-hope-so-important
3. Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J. R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., … Harney, P. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(4), 570. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1680