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Musicians Are Returning to Hospitals During COVID-19


March 27, 2020
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Design by
She Shreds

Musicians are returning to their previous work as nurses to help hospitals during this global pandemic—and they need your support.

With the gig economy on hold and COVID-19 rapidly spreading, musicians are returning to their previous employment as nurses to help with the increasing influx of patients. Hospitals are struggling to assist with COVID-19 patients due to a lack of resources and staff, and returning nurses are heading directly into the eye of the storm.

Nic Crawshaw, drummer in London’s Los Bitchos, recently returned to work for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK to help during this worldwide crisis.

Nat Lee, synth player in Brooklyn-based No Vacation, recently posted on Instagram about returning to work as an Registered Nurse (RN), the fears and concerns that come along with that decision, and how everyone should be supporting healthcare workers right now.

View this post on Instagram

Hello all friends out there. Please Read and Share. Nat here. I am a nurse, who worked in the ER. The world right now is short on nurses, who are coming face to face in direct contact with people who have COVID. This is not something to take lightly! The CDC is asking us to still work even if we don’t have the proper gear to protect ourselves. You can do anything to help!! If you know how to sew, please help by making masks! if you cannot sew, consider donating supplies to your friends who can OR pick up sewing as a new hobby!! If you know people with masks, please encourage them to donate!!! Last year I left my nursing job in the ER to pursue music with No Vacation. However, starting next week, I will start working as an RN again and I am scared. I have a compromised respiratory system and am scared I may bring this virus back to my father and sister, whom each have illnesses and disorders worst than me. BUT they also happen to be healthcare workers as well. I have coworkers with compromised immune systems, pregnant, parents, etc. who are still working. This is taking a toll on us, our mental and physical health and everyone who is surrounded by us. I am sharing this because, as a healthcare worker, we took an oath to do no harm. If we don’t help our patients because we fear getting sick, we are doing harm. I understand many people do not have jobs right now, but at least you are quarantined in your homes away from virus. please think of the people who are working to save lives. There are things you can do to help! If we all can work together in whatever way we can, we can come out of this insanity!!! Thank you, Nat

A post shared by No Vacation ???? (@novacationgrrl) on

Last week, we spoke with Sandra Blaya, an organizer of Cuarentena Fest in Spain, who works as an ICU nurse in the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona:

“Work at the hospital is chaotic, frenetic, and stressful. We have some fear, it is a fairly general feeling among all the staff. The situation has made us take measures different from those we were used to, and also the lack of material is causing the protocols to have to be adapted—for example, we can no longer protect ourselves as much. We don’t stop all day. And above all, we have a lot of uncertainty about the future.” Spain, unlike the US, has a universal healthcare system, and government officials claim that the quarantine is required for the stability of their public medical service.”

– Sandra Blaya, Spain’s Cuarentena Fest: ‘Don’t Let The Music Stop’

It’s crucial to note that a majority of nurses and caretakers are women, and a recent study by Young Labor Left is calling COVID-19 a “gendered crisis.”

How We Can Support Nurses Right Now

We reached out to Krista Marie, an RN in Philadelphia and guitarist/drummer (Sorrows, Chondria, Zombie Dogs, Carnal Knowledge) who says that most hospitals in the country operate on 12 hour shifts, which leaves little downtime for nurses between sleep and their next shift: “The challenges of working under normal conditions for an inpatient, bedside nurse is that it’s really taxing on your physical, mental, and emotional energy. Then pile a never before seen pandemic on top of that.”

  • Consider supporting a nursing friend as you would someone who just had a baby or got surgery. Start a meal train, give them gift certificates to sites that deliver food (Seamless, Grubhub, Caviar, etc), and/or offer to go grocery shopping and deliver at a specified drop off time. Marie encourages those of us who can support nurses right now to ask, with no contact in mind, “What basic needs does this person need taken care of right now?” She goes on to add that if people feel comfortable, they could leave their laundry out where another person could grab it, do it, and drop it off so there’s no contact. “People just have to be creative and way more proactive about getting these things done for nurses right now.”
  • Offer childcare. Nurses are working around the clock right now. Consider offering childcare services to those with children home from school. 
  • Donate supplies that are available and needed. Any certified PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including surgical masks, N95 respirators, isolation gowns, face shields, goggles, and non-latex nitrile gloves, can be donated directly to a hospital. (“Nurses can get in trouble if they have their own supply,” notes Marie.) However, you can donate disinfectant wipes to nurses for them to have in their own home.
  • Tell Congress to increase protective equipment for nurses, now. If you don’t have the means to donate supplies, sign this petition to demand that Congress do everything possible to increase PPE distribution and prioritization to healthcare workers. 
  • Donate blood. The American Red Cross currently has a critical need for blood donations during this pandemic. Blood drives are being canceled at an alarming rate and patients need a sufficient blood supply throughout this crisis and beyond. “You can still go out and give blood,”  says the US Surgeon General. “We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”
  • Stay home and adhere to social isolation. This is obvious, but perhaps the easiest and most important way you can support nurses right now. Keep it up!

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