by Staff Writer
Hollise White, BSN, RN, PHN, works 60-70 hours a week at the Erie County Department of Health COVID-19 testing site. Her day includes testing, monitoring positive patients and telehealth duties. She wears the personal protective equipment (PPE) for five straight hours on testing days. It’s the new normal with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hollise is a member of the Buffalo Chapter of Black Nurses Rock (BNRB), the largest minority nursing association in the country. Like other local members of the organization who work in health facilities throughout Western New York, she is well aware of the dangers and challenges they face in their role as front line health care workers.
Indeed. These are no ordinary times.
“We all have to adapt to the changes that we face ahead as an organization. As of now we don’t know what that looks like. But whatever it is we are prepared to adapt,” said a spokesperson.
The organization’s mission statement, “to inspire and empower innovative leaders that will serve and educate vulnerable communities,” speaks directly to their irreplaceable value today.
The demand for the skillset and expertise nurses have traditionally provided has skyrocketed as they bravely respond to a national call to duty for all hands on deck to fight the deadly Coronavirus ; a disease which continues to take the lives of countless people no matter their age, gender or ethnicity – and striking Black communities disproportionately locally and around the country.
The need for both male and female nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle remains high in demand to fill positions left vacant due to a lack of healthcare workers plagued with the virus and other reasons.
Top that with a shortage of proper personal protective equipment, exhaustion, stress from long hours and even some persons quitting because they were unable to emotionally withstand the level of unforeseen death at their feet on a daily basis. According to medscape.com over 100 Healthcare workers including doctors and nurses have died of COVID-19 around the country.
“I have never experienced anything like this before. I don’t think anyone has in this lifetime. While this situation is very unlike any other, as news develops daily we encourage the members of the community to get tested if they are symptomatic and remain quarantined if they are unable to do so to prevent the spread” said Chapter President Rhonda Wilson.So far, the Buffalo chapter of Black Nurses Rock has had only one confirmed case of COVID-19.
“It’s (like) the worst flu you ever want to have, breathing felt like razor blades,” said the BNRB member who survived the virus and has returned to work in good health and ready to serve!
In Buffalo where mayor Brown and other first responders have been stepping up to the plate to make sure the residents of the city are safe and well informed, Black Nurses Rock Buffalo have also been there every step of the way.
Although hours are long and the length of the pandemic has no true end date, members continue to make a strong effort to remain active via social media during this public health crisis.
“We believe that reaching all demographics is important since the coronavirus does not discriminate and can attack children, youth , adults and elders.”
The organization offers this advice to community residents:
“For Black Americans with underlying conditions such has diabetes, hypertension and asthma and other health issues, we encourage the community to live healthier lifestyles, see your medical provider regularly, and take care of your body. Eat healthy and exercise to boost your immune system as this is the only line of defense. Also stay home, wear a mask when out in public, wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your face,” said a Black Nurses Rock Buffalo representative.
Serving as one in roughly 40 plus chapters in America, Black Nurses Rock Buffalo (BNRB) is a hands-on organization that relies on being visible and active in keeping vulnerable communities educated on health disparities as well as inspiring and empowering those in the field. They have annual events to connect and respond to community needs providing informative community service events throughout the year.
Members stick together in these challenging times while looking after our residents.
“We encourage each other to stay strong, we pray for each other our families, we lift each other up. We are far more than just an organization of nurses we are sisters and brothers.”
There is no BNRB-Help line as nurses are not authorized to treat patients, however Black Nurses Rock Buffalo encourages you to contact your medical provider for help. You can also reach out to Medicare and Medicaid Services at cms.org or visit coronavirus.gov or usa.gov for up to date info.
Because of the Covid-19 crisis, no new enrollments are taking place at this time. You can learn more about the Black Nurses Rock Buffalo local chapter at bnrbflo.com and follow the chapter on Facebook and Instagram @BNRB
Black Nurses Rock Incorporated was founded in 2014 by Dr. Romeatrius Moss.
Black Nurses Rock Buffalo chapter (BNRB) was founded in July 2016. The Buffalo chapter’s current board members are Rhonda Wilson-President, Denay Scales-Vice President, Camille Johnson-Treasurer, Dr. Willa June-Arnet Co-Treasurer, Lynn Fletcher-Secretary and Dr. Char’lese Perry-Co-Secretary.
We Thank You For Your Continued Service Black Nurses Rock Buffalo !
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