What you do is essential.
State governments with stay-at-home orders have made determinations on what constitutes an “essential” service or business. The Washington Post analyzed what services have been almost universally recognized as essential, generating the following list:
- Healthcare operations (with restrictions)
- Gas stations and auto repair
- Grocery stores, convenience stores, markets and food banks
- Pharmacies and drug stores
- Hardware stores
- Child care (with restrictions)
- Restaurants (carryout, delivery and drive-through)
- Veterinary care
- Homeless shelters
Many states and cities have a more expansive list. I want to point out a few things.
First, just because these businesses have been deemed “essential,” does not mean that they are thriving. Most are not. In my community, while restaurants can remain open for carryout, many have closed their doors, unable to accommodate a shift in their operating model.
Second, there is a frustrating misconception that healthcare practices are either thriving or less impacted by the pandemic than other segments of the economy. This is simply not true. Healthcare workers on the front lines working with COVID patients are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk and making less money in exchange for longer (exhausting) working hours. Healthcare workers taking care of the rest of the population are postponing preventative care or non-time-sensitive treatments and procedures. In other words, they aren’t doing the things they need to do to earn a living. They are doing everything they can to keep their practices afloat in the face of enormous challenge.
Third, the word “essential” is offensive and inadequate. I will cut a little slack for whoever coined the word’s use. I think what they meant was “essential during a pandemic.” I still dislike it. It demeans what you do, if you are not on the governor’s list. What you do is essential. It is essential for whomever you serve. It is essential for you and your family. What you do is essential for the health of our economy.
Let’s team up and beat this thing, so that we can all get back to doing our essential work.
In closing, I want to give a shout out to my creative and inspirational mother-in-law who is making masks - as functional (essential?) as they are beautiful - for people in her community in Massachusetts. A few of them are featured below. I was the lucky beneficiary of one of the red masks with the anchor print.
Stay strong, stay engaged, stay positive.
If you need help with patient communications during COVID-19, Solutionreach can help. Find out more here.