by Tamala S. Bradham, Ph.D., DHA, CCC-A, CPPS, CPHQ
I’m uncomfortable. There I said it! I feel better… at least a little better.
I received a message at work this past week that we are returning to the workplace. This was an eye-opening message. It is a signal that it is time to start reintegrating back into society! Don’t get me wrong; I love being around people- having hallway conversations, going to meetings, and making things better. I miss the handshaking, hugs, and being able to have conversations with my neighbors and colleagues face-to-face.
For the past year, I had worked from home, wore my mask, ordered items online, and washed my hands frequently. We stopped eating out in restaurants, stopped getting together with friends and family, and avoided public places. I love people but wait…here it comes again…I’m uncomfortable.
When I drive in the city and see lots of cars, I get uneasy. When I am in the grocery store, and the person behind me doesn’t stay 6 feet away, I get nervous. And, when a person heading in my direction doesn’t attempt to alter their path, so we don’t get too close, I think they are rude (I can't believe I just shared that).
Now, it is time to reintegrate back into society where people choose not to get vaccinated or can’t get vaccinated because there is not enough to go around yet. There is still so much confusion about how to reintegrate and the time for the new normal is upon us.
When I am faced with a problem, I turn to the facts. Here is what I learned about preparing for a new normal:
- The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Side effects have been reported but are considered to be common. The CDC has reported extremely rare severe allergic reactions to the vaccines (CDC, 2021).
- The COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease but are still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 (CDC, 2021).
- The COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, which protects you from getting sick with COVID-19 (CDC, 2021).
- Research is still being conducted on how long the vaccines keep you safe. CDC has reported that it is safer to get the vaccine to build protection than getting infected (CDC, 2021).
Next, I’d like to research potential subjects that could potentially cause the illness in the workplace. I used a Fishbone Diagram to organize my thoughts about what was making me uncomfortable about returning to the workplace. I can now see some possible ways to make it safer to return to work and feel more comfortable.
In March of 2020, we had to stop everything abruptly. There was no time to think; we had to react. Looking back, it was a luxury that I could stop, withdraw, and create a bubble for my family. Unfortunately, many people did not have that luxury or chose other avenues in how they lived and ended up suffering the consequences of this disease.
As we return to another new normal a year later, I hope that everyone can take a moment to study the facts, think about reintegrating safely back into a new normal, and act accordingly to minimize the spread of this disease.
The next time I get that sense of being uncomfortable, I need to remember what I am doing to keep my family and me safe. By thinking of the actions that I am taking, I know I have become a part of the solution – and that makes me smile.
- What will you do to prepare for your new normal?
- Will you be returning to the workplace? If you have been in the workplace – healthcare, grocery stores, mail, package delivery service, and so many other essential employees, thank you!!
- What actions (new and continue) will you take to be a part of the solution?
I encourage you to write them down and talk about your concerns and ideas with your colleagues, peers, and family. By working together, sharing our thoughts, and clarifying information, we can make informed decisions that ultimately will impact our new normal.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. (March 11, 2021). Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html
I may not always get it right (ask my kids) but that is the beauty of quality improvement! We take small steps and learn what worked and what didn't and try again.
Failure is an option but giving up is not! After all, things would be very boring if we were all perfect!
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