Across the country, veteran health care workers are answering the call to leave their quiet post-retirement lifestyle and bring their valuable skills back to work, serving the urgent needs of fellow Americans. A person may be retired, but they can still be very useful, especially during a crisis like the one we’re in now.
A call from God
Two years ago, after 30 years spent working in critical care and maternity wards at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, Cynthia Buatte retired. With a desperate need for healthcare workers from coast-to-coast in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Ms. Buatte felt an urgent call to return to the front lines. “I guess it was just a calling from God for me. I’ve always been a caregiver,” she says. “It’s a pull to want to help, because there are people out there who need help and they’re not getting help.”
Local leaders are glad she feels that way, and are quick to assure other retired medical professionals that their services are welcome too. “This message is for my fellow medical professionals,” Sam Page of St. Louis County announced. “We need your help in St. Louis County and we need it now.”
They set up a page on their website where retired nurses and other health care staff can fill out their details. Ms. Buatte filled one out and she’s waiting for her phone to ring. While she stands by for a hospital to give her a call, Buatte worries that she’s gotten rusty. “The field of nursing and medicine changes so rapidly,” she acknowledges. Still, she’s been through a lot in her career and is ready for just about anything. “You have to be prepared as it gets. It’s a matter of life and death.”
Online refresher course
Nursing instructor Joanne Langan has a solution for a crash nursing refresher course. She teaches something similar each spring at St. Louis University but her normal class has been canceled due to the outbreak. Langan is really frustrated about that, because now is when it’s needed the most.
“We can’t wait until we’re in a crisis mode, we need to prepare now. Honestly, I think we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop in our area. I think we’re waiting for a surge of patients and I think we’re going to need these nurses again.” Like everyone else in America, Langan is turning to online technology with a push to “get the nursing refresher course held virtually.”
Another source of relief for healthcare teams comes from medical schools. According to Lizzie Andrews, a fourth-year medical student at Texas A&M about to start her residency, “We’ve been preparing for this for all four years and that’s what we want to do — we want to help people. That’s why we got into medicine in the first place.”