If you head outside around 8 tonight, you might hear a cacophony of humans, faces turned toward the full moon, howling.
The daily howl is a socially-distanced cry of support for health care workers on the front lines stemming the surge of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Brie Hobbs is one such worker, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at St. Pat’s hospital in Missoula. She spoke remotely with Nicky Ouellet.
NICKY OUELLET: Can I just ask how you’re feeling lately?
BRIE HOBBS: Feeling like a calm before the storm. I don’t really know how else to describe it. I feel well informed and educated, so I do not feel panicked. But definitely treading on uncharted territory, so learning as i go and relying upon my colleagues and my support network.
NO: It’s funny you say the calm before the storm because I, at least, feel like we are in the storm. It sounds like you’re expecting things to get, maybe, more intense?
BH: Fortunately we live in a rural community so we’re a little behind on the timeline. We’re learning from our sister hospitals in larger metro areas, learning from them and what they’ve already done. Hoping that proportionately, our storm will not be as intense as other areas of the country.
NO: Do you think that you will contract the virus?
BH: Personally as things have progressed I’ve shifted from wondering if I’d get COVID to when I get COVID. But again, just crossing every bridge as we get to it and seeing as things play out and taking it as it comes.
NO: Are you finding ways to turn nurse brain off and deal with this as a person?
BH: I’ve been forced to. I’m naturally a social person and I've had to start my crossfit workouts online at home. I’ve had to social distance. I have very serious conversations. I rent to a tenant, he’s my roommate who doesn’t work in healthcare about if one of us becomes sick with COVID how we’re going to manage that and the difficult decisions around that. I can hear howls in the background right now!
NO: How does that feel?
BH: It feels good, it feels really good. Missoula is unique, it has a great community. It feels good to be noticed and supported, and it’s not just nurses. It’s all of us. It’s our RTs, OTs, PTs, dietitians, CNAs, infectious disease team, physician's assistants, families. It’s everybody. Our community always supports us. We’ve been getting food donations and signs at work. It’s pretty unbelievable.
NO: You have this really unique perspective on what is happening to our society right now and I’m curious if there’s anything you want other people to know or understand.
BH: It’s been a really self-awareness period for myself. Thinking of other people and the best decisions we can make, the next right decision we can make in the moment.