While the world might feel like a pretty scary place right now, helping others can be a great way to focus your energy, spread some positivity and regain a sense of control.
As most Michiganders shelter in place, Michigan’s health care professionals continue to battle one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, needing more support than ever from the communities they serve.
Instead of feeling stuck, here are some things you can do to help the doctors, nurses and other medical workers risking their own health to save others:
Stay at home
Give the gift of staying out of hospital emergency rooms. Seriously. Medical professionals are begging people to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
In a now viral video posted to her Instagram, Michigan emergency room nurse Mary Macdonald pleaded with people as hospitals struggle with weary staff and a severe shortage of masks and other supplies.
“It’s truly scary and nobody is taking it seriously,” Macdonald said. “I want to jump through my phone and strangle people that are on the beach or out with their friends still. That’s the problem.”
If you do leave your home for whatever reason, adhere to social distancing measures and wash your hands with soap and water, regularly, for 20 seconds.
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With hundreds of blood drives canceled, hospitals are in need of blood. If you feel healthy and meet necessary requirements, donating blood is an easy way to ensure that hospitals and health care workers can focus on patient care, instead of blood supplies.
Click here to read Bridge’s guide on how to donate blood during the coronavirus crisis. Giving blood also gets you out of the house; and it’s doctor approved.
If you haven’t already taken your sewing machine out of storage, now is a great time to get crafty.
Medical workers are being forced to use the same masks over and over again, risking infection from COVID-19 patients. So Michiganders have fired up their sewing machines, making homemade masks to donate to local hospitals.
The JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores website offers detailed instructions, patterns and other resources for DIY masks. Local groups like the West Michigan Quilters Guild and 4M: Mid-Michigan Mask Makers also provide tips if you’re interested in getting involved.
Before donating, make sure to check with your local hospital to see if it accepts homemade mask donations, as hospital policies have been rapidly changing. If your local hospital is not currently accepting homemade masks, consider other essential businesses in your community that may be able to use them.
Start a supply drive
If your crafting abilities are lacking but still want to get supplies to the front lines, consider starting a supply drive in your community.
Groups such as the University of Michigan Association of Chinese Professors and nationwide organizations, like the newly-formed Mask Crusaders, have already had success in this crowd-funding model.
Reach out to friends, neighbors and local businesses for medical or cleaning supplies that can be donated, including surgical or N95 masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Many hospitals are accepting donations of items if they are new or unused.
Material donations can be directed to the Michigan Community Service Commission at COVID19donations@michigan.gov or 517-335-4295.
For health care workers logging long hours and increasingly stressful situations, a good meal can be a welcome relief. Ask the medical staff at Detroit Henry Ford Hospital’s emergency room, who received a lunch catered by Grammy winner Lizzo.
Many Michigan groups are raising money to help deliver meals to hospital workers, such as Front Line Appreciation Group Metro Detroit, Heroes at Hospitals, and Mid-Michigan Meals for Hospital Workers. Individual restaurants, like Kelvin & Co. Uban BBQ in Kalamazoo, have stepped up to provide meals to southwest Michigan hospitals and are accepting community donations to support the program.
Offer to pick up groceries
Before your next grocery run, offer to grab some groceries for the healthcare workers in your life, too. With reduced hours of operation at many grocers and added social distancing measures in place, a trip to the grocery store is more difficult than ever — especially after a backbreaking hospital shift.
Want to help but don’t know anyone in health care? Try posting in local Facebook Groups or NextDoor to offer your assistance.
Assist with child care
If you’re able (and healthy), offering to provide child care for those in health care right now could be a lifesaver. With many in medicine facing extended overtime and uncertain hours combined with the closure of Michigan’s schools, health care workers are scrambling for child care. If you know a medical professional who may need assistance, consider offering to watch their kids for a couple of hours – or even overnight.
Many hospitals have set up funds specifically to support their COVID-19 response. Check your local hospital’s website to see how you can contribute.
Check out GoFundMe campaigns, like this one in Kalamazoo, to see what people in your community are doing. Direct Relief and the World Health Organization are also collecting donations to help supply medical workers with necessary equipment in the United States.
Don’t make them your personal Web-MD
It may be tempting to text your friend or relative in health care every time you cough. Resist.
Health care workers are under stress and exhaustion from the pandemic — there’s no need to add on the diagnosis of your symptoms, too.
If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or concerned that you may have been exposed, call your physician or 833-559-0659 to receive free COVID-19 phone screening through Spectrum Health (available to any Michigan resident).
Or call the state COVID-19 hotline 1-888-535-6136 with health-related questions. The hotline is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Please note: If you are having trouble breathing or any other emergency warning signs, seek care immediately.
Sharing a message of gratitude and support can offer a well-needed boost right now to those who need it most.
In today’s world, it’s easy to share your gratitude virtually. Text the health care workers in your life a message of support. Tag your local hospital in a shout-out tweet. An Ann Arbor resident even printed yard signs with “Thank You Healthcare Workers!” on them to show support.
Sometimes, it really is just the thought that counts.
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