We’ve been in peak flu season for a couple weeks now, so we’ve had some time to see how our updated influenza vaccination policy is working. I probably don’t need to tell you that it’s brought unique changes and challenges to the work life of some of our employees.
The updated policy said that if you don’t get a flu shot you would be required to wear a mask at work during peak influenza season. End of story. This process is one thing while you’re debating whether or not to get a flu shot; it’s an entirely different concept once you see it in practice. The faces of many staff we’re used to seeing every day are now covered by a mask.
Let me be clear: It’s definitely OK that their faces are covered (not because I don’t want to see them, oh geez, I might have just dug myself a hole here). It’s OK because they’re following our guidelines to not only keep our patients well but to keep themselves healthy too. That’s what’s important here.
So where am I going with this? It’s come to my attention that some of these staff members who are now wearing masks are being met with taunting and ridicule by other non-mask-wearing employees. Folks, that’s simply unacceptable. We’re all here to do a job: take care of the patients who come to us for help. We do that in a variety of ways, but our patients are always the focus. Let’s keep our eye on the ball.
Our staff who opted out of the flu shot did so for a reason—medical, ethical, religious or moral. That is their choice and as coworkers—members of the Good Samaritan family—we must respect those choices. I can’t imagine that wearing a mask for the entire time they’re at work is anywhere near comfortable or convenient, so let’s have a little bit of empathy.
To test this comfort theory, I donned a mask myself.
Disclaimer: The census data featured in this photograph may have been altered for dramatic purposes.
As I suspected, it is neither comfortable or convenient. But I stand by those who are wearing masks—and those who aren’t—and thank you for work. We’re all in this together.