TEP Frontline Healthcare Focus: Casie Habetler

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is collecting a series of first hand stories of LGBTQ people in Tennessee who work in the health field during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This story is from Casie Habetler (and please note these thoughts belong to they/them and not employer). If you are an LGBTQ person working in the health field and want to tell your story of working during the pandemic send it to Jeremiah at volunteer@tnep.org .

By Casie Habetler

I’ve worked in Emergency Medicine for 6 years, 4 in a very busy level one trauma center. We plan for the unknown every day, we’re ready for anything that comes through those front doors.

We’ve done a lot together, this ED family of mine. We’ve worked countless codes, traumas, a couple of mass shootings, we’re used to being full, with patients in every hallway and a waiting room full of people. Needless to say, we’re adaptable, we can take a punch.

Yet COVID has changed everything. There are so many unknowns to this virus that it’s hard to make a game plan for it. Before a trauma, we do a pre-briefing. We go around the room and say our names and title, and then we discuss what’s coming in and how we’re going to work it and what to do if X,Y,Z happen. We can’t do that with this, we don’t know when it’s coming we just know it’s out there lurking and waiting.

I’m currently in school (finishing up prereqs and will hopefully be starting the BSN program at South College in June) I work Friday -Sunday and spend the rest of the week doing school work, mostly throughout the week I try not to think about COVID. Yet it never fails, the Thursday before I go back I’m anxious, for the first time in my 6 years of being an AEMT, I don’t really want to go to work. I wake up on Friday morning, I check my temp and my symptoms and fill out a survey via email to Occupational Health to make sure I’m clear to come in. I gather my work bag and head out for the day.

On the way in I try to listen to music, but I’m too anxious. “Is this the day I mess up doffing and contract COVID? Is this the day I find out one of my coworkers has it and they’re not doing too well?

I park my car, I go in and get my temperature checked, then I meet the rest of my coworkers in the department. That anxiety is still there, but I find comfort in them. I know they are going through this too, and like everything else we’ve been through, we will get through this too. If anything COVID has shown us what matters most, it sorts through the bullshit and brings to light what is truly important. The need for human connection, the solidarity we are all finding through the unknown. These are things that will help pull us through.

Related Story: TEP Frontline Healthcare Focus: Matthew Fuson

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