I’ve bid my farewells to Hawaii and the family living there, and am now sitting in the Seattle airport on a layover back to New York. My vacation was supposed to last a bit longer, but it is impossible to relax, and was becoming challenging to enjoy the time off when the mainland is burning (and not just from COVID). So I cut my vacation short and will be in Brooklyn for 4 days and Long Island for 12 days on a crisis contract. My family flew with me for the first leg of the trip, but we parted ways in Seattle – they’re headed home and I’m going straight out to New York. For all the bluster my daughter gave me about stealing my bed while I’m gone, she was still tearful when we split. The break itself was great though, and much needed. I ran down the mountain to the beach, jumped in the ocean, then ran back up the mountain on most days, and I learned how to surf.

This will be my last crisis contract. I’m starting a desk job shortly after I return from this trip, so it will very much be my last hoorah before mostly retiring from clinical practice to a desk job and academic work. If I’m completely honest with myself, it’s a needed retirement. I was burned out from clinical work before COVID started. I have lots of knowledge that can still be put to good use, but if my patience for dealing with people was fleeting before, it is certainly gone now. I have no doubt I will have some degree of mourning for leaving clinical practice (which I already do, on a certain level), but it is a needed change. I lasted over 15 years in clinical practice and now it is time to get on to something different.

I had my roommate ship my respirator to the hotel I’ll be staying at. I have a single, manky old N95 that I’ve been recycling for several months now that I was going to retire after the flight back from Hawaii as I require lesser protection on an airplane than in a vented COVID patient’s room. Also, quite frankly, the fitted N95 masks are too precious a resource to just throw away before they’re abundantly past their usefulness period. I doubt the seal is fully effective, the staples holding the elastic are rusting, and the inside is a disgusting grey-brown color, but it’s certainly better protection than an unfitted mask would be. Normally I wouldn’t be very worried about receiving the respirator on time as the postal service is normally very reliable, but the post office slowdowns circa, the election situation has not improved yet…, and my only definite fallback is this month’s old mask. I don’t know if the hospital will have any masks to spare, much less one that fits me correctly.

It is very strange to be going back to New York and to not have any disaster contracts from Wisconsin. I have a few contacts who are on travel contracts there (and lots of colleagues who work in numerous health systems in WI), and apparently, most of the hospital systems are continuing to pretend their staff isn’t stretched beyond reasonable limits. It’s every bit the corporate irresponsibility/blaming workers for the hostile approach that I have come to expect from health conglomerates, but I’m perplexed that several NYC and Long Island hospitals are bracing for another surge and staffing up before the proverbial hits the fan this time. During this trip, I am keen to try to investigate what the structural differences are between these two NYC hospitals, which seem to be taking some kind of a proactive approach to ensuring they have the staff they need, and the hand waving everything-is-fine approach others are taking. In either event, it is very strange indeed to be contracted halfway across the country when my own state’s crisis is, by the numbers, presently worse than the one in NY.

More later – I don’t even know for sure what I’ll be doing in Brooklyn. They asked for someone who could do just about anything, from critical care and emergency to general medicine.

Jackie Christianson, MSN, FNP-C


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