Healthcare workers reflect on COVID-19 mandates and vaccines

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Photo Courtesy of Tina Dennis

Duke Raleigh Hospital

Will Dennis, Staff Writer

Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic since March 11th, 2020. As time went on many wondered if life would ever go back to normal in the near future or even at all.  Now as vaccines are being pumped out and mandates are being lifted, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. With more than 37% of the state’s adult population fully vaccinated, it has allowed North Carolina to lift the outdoor mask mandate.  

Tina Dennis, a nurse practitioner for Duke Raleigh Hospital, has seen firsthand the effects of Covid-19 on the staff, the patients, their families and the hospital system itself.

“The dangers of Covid-19 have caused many to leave the workforce,” said Dennis.  “In the beginning surgeries were canceled, even important ones because the hospital was full of Covid-19 patients.” 

There have been many changes in how the pandemic is being handled from over a year ago, when it was declared, to now. 

“At first it could take more than 24 hours to get a Covid-19 test back. Now it takes [as little as] 15 minutes,” said Dennis. “And initially we were all scared PPE would run out.  Now, we feel secure and know there is enough.”

PPE is one of those terms the general population didn’t know prior to the pandemic. It stands for personal protective equipment and is the equipment worn to protect and minimize the risk of exposure to the contagious virus.    

Another provider on staff at Duke Raleigh is infectious disease doctor, Dr. John Engemann. Engemann is head of Covid-19 procedures and is up to date on the latest research and recommendations. Being the head of the procedures is a very time-consuming job.

We in healthcare see hope for the future as more and more Americans get vaccinated and our Covid-19 infection rates go down.”

— Engemann

“I have worked more long hours than I care to admit,” said Engemann.  “I go to work in the dark and I go home in the dark.”  

When discussing with Dr. Engemann the excitement about some of the lifted restrictions he also shares joy. 

“We in healthcare see hope for the future as more and more Americans get vaccinated and our Covid-19 infection rates go down.”  

Many health care professionals express concern regarding mandates being lifted too soon believing they may cause a negative impact on Covid-19 rates. 

“I think [Texas lifting mask mandates] is really a shame,” Engemann said. “It’s not only reversing the hard work thousands of scientists and providers have been doing this past year, but it’s also delegitimizing the nearly 600 thousand lives we’ve lost from the virus.”

Regardless, the optimism from healthcare professionals like  Dennis and Engemann gives many people outside of healthcare a positive outlook for what the future holds, and as more and more mandates are lifted and people become vaccinated, that future doesn’t seem so far away.

The work these two healthcare workers provide to our community is not only appreciated but also inspiring. These are only two small examples of the millions of healthcare workers who put their lives on the line for the benefit of America.