This past Friday, our health unit dispatched two teams to a local senior’s residence in crisis to help with medications and COVID-19 testing.
I was paired with an auxiliary nurse I hadn’t worked with before, a tall and elegant Roshumba Williams type. We met in the lobby of the residence and practiced vigorous hand hygiene before a sink made for giants that was flush with my chin and Roshumba’s hips, then had our temperatures taken. Afebrile. Roshumba handed me my PPE kit.
The white gown threw me off guard a little (we were used to gauzy, yellow, flowy PPE the length of car coats). It unfolded like a table cloth, its stiff, pleated sections hanging like a large, sectional Ikea rectangle. Its length was lined with closely spaced tiny snaps culminating in a neat mandarin collar at the top. Following Roshumba’s lead, I donned it like a lab coat and proceeded to snap away until it completely covered my Gap jeans, my Old Navy plaid shirt, leaving only grape-purple sneakers peaking out from under the hem. I spent the next 6 hours in full (stark white) PPE, roaming the hallways like a mini refrigerator, visor head swivelling like R2D2 as I tried to keep up with Roshumba’s longer stride length, not to mention her work ethic. We got the job done though it weren’t pretty.
Fast forward to today. A new client. Level 2 PPE stuffed into a paper lunch bag. I was already wearing my mask as I rang the bell. The door was opened by my client’s son. I spread brown paper towels on the floor of the hallway to create a clean surface on which to lay the lunch bag and my work bag. Hand hygiene was done first. Gown next. This one was blue. Large enough to to protect the entire Western Hemisphere, it completely covered my purple sneakers, elasticated sleeves extended to the ground in knuckle-grazing PPE style. I pushed them up determinedly and donned medium sized gloves over Hobbit-sized hands. The client’s lovely son asked me if I’d like a tea and I politely declined as one purple sneaker stepped on the inside of the gown, momentarily stopping the earth and me from spinning. I lifted the hem with begloved hands and proceeded.
Evaluation completed. Recommendations given. I doffed gloves and elasticated sleeves unfurled to the ground. Lost hands were eventually found and cleaned. I peeled the blue sky off next, carefully rolling it into a ball, inside out, and tried to stuff it back into the tiny paper lunch bag which promptly ripped straight down the middle. Apologetically, I left the bulging blue detritus in the hallway of my client, instructing his son to wash his hands after he disposed of it.
Home care PPE is clearly not an exact science and its one size must fit all approach is (thankfully) fodder for blogs. Please stay safe, friends.