Winter is coming! Protect your workers from icy perils

By Rich Gaul, BWC Safety Technical Adviser

Winter is right around the corner. Are you and your employees ready for the harsh conditions of the season?

Taking some simple steps can help protect your employees from ailments caused by exposure to low temperatures, wind, and moisture.

The two primary health risks in cold weather are hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can replace it, causing your core body temperature to drop below 95 F. Frostbite is a condition where human tissue freezes. Frostbite most commonly affects the face, ears, fingers, and toes.

Early warning signs of hypothermia include feeling extremely cold, shivering, cold or numb fingertips or toes, impaired fine-motor control, slurred speech, confusion or disorientation, and drowsiness.

Early warning signs of frostbite include skin that appears slightly swollen, waxy looking and feels cold or numb. More severe frostbite affects deeper layers of tissue. Skin may become completely numb and blister. Deep tissue, including muscle, blood vessels and bone may freeze and turn black.

Treatment: If someone is experiencing symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, get the person to a warm, dry environment; remove any wet clothing; wrap them in dry warm blankets or towels; remove any jewelry or constrictive clothing that could restrict blood flow; submerge mild frostbite areas in lukewarm water (100-105 F); have them drink warm sweet liquids; monitor their condition closely and call for emergency medical attention if needed.

Prevention – employers should:

  • Train employees on symptoms and prevention measures for cold stress and frostbite, the importance of self-monitoring, and first aid procedures.
  • Provide engineering controls like wind chill shields, radiant heaters, and de-icing materials.
  • Consider protective clothing that provides warmth such as loose-fitting layers, a hat that covers the ears, mittens/gloves, thick wool socks, and waterproof boots.
  • Implement safe work practices such as:
    • Scheduling routine maintenance and repairs in summer months.
    • Limiting time outdoors and scheduling jobs in the warmer part of the day.
    • Monitoring weather conditions and avoiding exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
    • Providing warm liquids to drink and warming areas for use during breaks.
    • Acclimatizing employees gradually to cold environments.
    • Monitoring employees and providing them means of communication.

Working in cold winter weather conditions or indoor cold environments may be unavoidable, but following the practices outlined above will help keep employees safe when they’re exposed to cold conditions.

If you have questions on improving safety, reducing risk factors, or other occupational safety and health topics, BWC is here to help. Reach out to one of our BWC safety consultants online for assistance or call 1-800-644-6292. Don’t forget to take advantage of our other safety services as well. The Division of Safety and Hygiene offers a wide range of services for all industries at no additional cost to employers, including safety education and training and the BWC safety and video library.

Have you heard? Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable

By Jeffrey Hutchins, Regional Loss Prevention Manager

Hearing loss is something that can affect any of us not only on the job, but in every aspect of our lives.

However, because noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens gradually over time, many of us don’t give it the attention it deserves.

That’s why the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) designates every October as National Protect Your Hearing Month. The NIDCD urges you to learn simple ways to protect yourself, your family, and co-workers from NIHL. The following simple solutions from the NIDCD can go a long way toward protecting your hearing.

Turn down the volume

Set maximum volume limits on electronics and keep the volume low on music devices and TVs. Sounds at or above 85 decibels (comparable to heavy city traffic) put you at risk for NIHL, especially if they last a long time. These days, earbuds are a common concern.

“There’s nothing wrong with earbuds that are producing sounds at a low, nontoxic level. But earbuds are bad when you turn them up too loud,” says Dr. James Battey, former director of the NIDCD. “My rule of thumb is, if an individual is standing at arm’s length from you and they can hear your earbuds…that noise is probably over 85 decibels and if delivered for a long enough time will cause noise-induced hearing loss.”

Move away from the noise

To reduce sound intensity and the impact of noise on your ears, increase the distance between you and the noise. Think of this simple step when you are near fireworks, concert speakers, or in a loud restaurant.

Wear hearing protection

Sometimes you can’t easily escape the sound, whether you’re at a movie theater, a concert, a sporting event, or a noisy work environment. Earplugs or protective earmuffs can help. There is a single number required by law on each hearing protector called the noise reduction rating. The NRR for hearing protectors can range from 17-33. The higher the NRR number, the more effective the protection. Be a good hearing health role model by wearing them yourself. If you don’t have hearing protectors, cover your ears with your hands.

In the workplace, think about the types of equipment or jobs that can cause hearing loss, such as:

  • Circular saws
  • Chain saws
  • Firing guns
  • Air-powered ejection equipment
  • Air-operated equipment without mufflers
  • Metal stamping
  • Machining operations

Once you’ve identified the potential sources of loud noises, be sure to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your co-workers from danger. The good news is NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.

BWC can help

Our industrial hygienists can help you identify NIHL hazards in your workplace with consultations. Our Hearing Conservation Program webinar can be viewed on-demand. The BWC Library also has plenty of resources, including videos, about noise and hearing conservation.

Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday, Nov. 7.

Delia Treaster, PhD, CPE, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor

It’s almost time for the end of Daylight Saving Time. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7, we return to Eastern Standard Time. We gain an extra hour as we “fall back,” but despite this advantage, this biannual ritual of changing our clocks can mess with our internal clock.

When we turn the clocks back one hour this weekend, it is as if we crossed one time zone westward. For some, it may take up to a week to become accustomed to waking and sleeping one hour later. You will notice it will be lighter for your commute on Monday morning following the end of Daylight Saving Time. Conversely, it will get darker an hour earlier in the evening, so there may be less daylight for your evening commute.

Research has shown that there are more sleep disruptions in the week following the changing of the clocks. Nighttime restlessness tends to increase, resulting in poor sleep quality.. Morning “larks” are more bothered by the autumn change, while night “owls” fare worse with the spring change.

Whether you’re a “lark” or “owl”, you should expect a few restless nights following the end of Daylight Saving Time and be prepared to make some adjustments. The upcoming “fall back” will give most of us a much-needed chance to catch up on sleep, so take full advantage of that extra hour of zzz’s.

While more light may make your morning commute easier, the opposite – less light – can occur for your evening commute. Because vision may be poorer, give yourself extra following distance on the road. Be alert for cyclists or pedestrians who may be harder to see in dimmer light. Driving a little slower will give you more time to react to unexpected events.

As your body slowly adjusts to the new hours of waking and sleeping, you should be able to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. You’ll become accustomed to the new lighting levels for the morning and evening drives. That is, until next spring, when we again change our clocks and start the readjustment period all over again!

Agriculture safety means continuous focus on doing the right thing

By Bruce Loughner, CSP, Technical Safety Resource Consultant

The annual Farm Science Review serves as a reminder to protect farm workers from hazards that may lead to injury or death. The event, sponsored by The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science, focuses on education in the agricultural industry.

Whether you plan to attend Farm Science Review this week or want to brush up on agricultural safety from home, we’ve put together some resources to help.

Farm hazards and controls

Overexertion is the leading accident type on most types of farms. Strains and sprains can result in serious injuries. These are typically caused by lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying activities. To avoid overexertion:

  • Take frequent breaks during periods of heavy exertion.
  • Adjust work to waist to shoulder level.
  • Consider heat stress mitigation including rest periods.
  • Use specialized mechanical lifting equipment.
  • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for using equipment.
  • Simplify or combine processes to reduce the amount of handling and repositioning.
  • Make sure you have enough working space to allow for good body positioning. Use portable positioning blocks, support surfaces, pry bars, levers, clamps, vises, chains, slings, rollers, etc. to minimize manual force.
  • Use slings, handholds, or other means of ensuring good grip and control.
  • Always get help when lifting or repositioning heavy items.

Working with machinery can also lead to potential hazards. For example, hearing loss may result from exposure to loud farm equipment. Also, entanglement, or getting caught in a machine, may lead to severe injury or death. To prevent these hazards:

  • Use hearing protection such as ear plugs or muffs to prevent hearing loss.
  • Maintain equipment according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Perform a pre-operational service check before operating machinery and correct any problems before starting. Always read and follow all instructions in the operator’s manuals.
  • Ensure appropriate training before operating. 
  • Use guarding supplied by the manufacturer.  
  • Always use the rollover protective system with tractors and mowers. Tractor rollover is another leading cause of death on farms.
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, aprons, and helmets. Wear proper clothing for the task such as long pants, work boots, gloves, and long sleeves. Do not wear items that could become entangled in moving machine parts such as jewelry, drawstrings, ties, or loose clothing.
  • Tie back or otherwise secure loose hair but be aware that even short or tied-back hair may become entangled in moving equipment.

In addition to these tips, BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH) recommends creating a culture of safety within your organization. Simple actions, like starting every meeting with a short safety topic, can help to keep everyone’s mind on safety.

DSH resources

In July 2021, BWC and the Ohio On-Site Consultation Program joined an alliance with the Ohio Agribusiness Association and the four Ohio area offices of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to raise awareness and develop safety education and training specific to the Ohio agribusiness industry. Stay tuned for future safety education and training specific to the Ohio agribusiness industry.

If you have questions on improving safety, reducing risk factors, or other occupational safety and health topics, BWC is here to help. Reach out to one of our BWC safety consultants online for assistance or call 1-800-644-6292. Don’t forget to take advantage of our other safety services as well. DSH offers a wide range of services for all industries at no additional cost to employers, including safety education and training and the BWC safety and video library.

We also have additional resources available online for farmers:

Combined Charitable Campaign CCC saves lives

BWC People – Making a Difference

By Adam King, Public Information Officer

Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist Tammi Nye is fighting for her life — again, making this year’s state of Ohio Combined Charitable Campaign especially poignant.
“The money you donate through CCC can change someone’s life or even save it,” said Tammi, who works out of the Toledo Service Office. “I don’t need CCC’s support for my health issue, but I’m sure countless others do – our loved ones, neighbors and friends, and others who have no support at all.”

In August, Tammi learned the disease that destroyed both of her kidneys is back, this time targeting the transplanted kidney she received five years ago. The disease – Glomerulonephritis syndrome – is extremely rare in women, and in 25 years doctors have made almost no headway in determining why it appears or how to treat it.
“The goal right now is to preserve the organ and not lose it,” said Tammi. “So you kind of feel like you aren’t necessarily back to phase one, but you’ve lost ground. The medications are a struggle with cost and insurance and pharmacy coverage. There’s always some battle to fight somewhere, essentially to survive.”

Tammi said she can’t imagine anyone battling a major health issue without financial stability. That’s one reason she accepted an at-large board position with the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio four years ago. The foundation serves 350 clients and distributes about $80,000 annually for medications, medical transportation, and supplements.

She said becoming a board member was a bit of a fluke. She responded to the organization’s Facebook post on Father’s Day to thank her living donor for giving her another year with her father. The director contacted her, and she’s been on the board since.

“You can feel you’re on your own if you don’t have an advocate or someone to educate you on certain things,” said Tammi, who uses her position to encourage organ donation, promote the foundation’s services, and share the ins and outs of being a kidney recipient.

Tammi said BWC was a lifesaver when she was hired in 2016. The year before that, and just two weeks after her successful kidney transplant, her employer of nearly 15 years told her that her safety manager position was eliminated.
Finding a new job wasn’t easy. Friends had to drive her to job fairs because she wasn’t allowed to drive for four months after surgery. Out of 40 jobs she applied for, BWC and a federal position were the only offers.

“So this must mean this is where I was meant to be,” she said.
Tammi started donating to the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio through CCC in 2017 and has continued every year since. In 2018, the Toledo office highlighted the foundation as a donation destination. Tammi already made her donation, but she offered to match her colleagues’ contributions dollar for dollar, which raised another $600.

Every dollar raised this year is important because the Kidney Foundation had to cancel its largest and most successful fundraising event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tammi hopes people consider the foundation during CCC, in part because BWC has its own small kidney transplant community — three employees have received one and another is a donor.

“Even with the disease reoccurring, I’m on the right side of this process with a new organ, and I’m the healthiest I’ve felt in years,” said Tammi.

The CCC runs through Oct. 9. We’ve raised $169,070, or two-thirds of our goal of $253,000, as of Monday morning. You can choose the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio using code 16040, or choose one of the many other deserving charities and organization in the 2020 Resource Guide. Visit myOhio.gov and click the myCCC button to start your donation or contact your area’s CCC coordinator for donation forms

My family’s trauma changed my world

Thankfully, so did Kids’ Chance of Ohio

By Malerie Mysza

I remember the last truly happy moments I spent with my father. I was 4, and we sat watching cartoons and laughing in the living room of our home in Cleveland. Soon after, he suffered brain injuries and blindness from an on-the-job accident. My father as I knew him no longer existed.

Brian Mysza suffered brain injuries and blindness from an on-the-job accident. His son, Sam, walks beside him.

At age 5, I visited him in his new nursing home on Easter. I asked him to come hunt for eggs with me, but when I offered him my arm to come along, he grabbed and twisted it painfully. I wasn’t allowed near him after that.

Experiencing a trauma like that as a child forever changed me. It made me want to do something to help him and others who were living with similar brain injuries. But when you lose more than half your family income and your mom stops working in order to care for her five children, how do you finance such an ambitious goal?

Searching for scholarships, I discovered Kids’ Chance of Ohio. The nonprofit organization offers scholarships to children of workers who have been permanently disabled or fatally injured on the job. Kids’ Chance awarded me $18,000 over five years. Combined with local scholarships and other public financial assistance, it covered the costs of my undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. When I say Kids’ Chance made my educational dreams possible, it’s no exaggeration.

Brian Mysza, before the accident, with daughter Ashley.

This spring I graduated from UC with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. I now hope to complete my master’s in Occupational Therapy at UC, with an anticipated graduation date of 2022.

The joy I experienced on my graduation day was surreal. Nine-year-old me, who asked my mom if she could get my dad exercise bands so he wouldn’t just sit in a chair and rock back and forth all day, was ecstatic. My 10-year-old self, who tried to figure out how to make treadmills brain-injury friendly during a fourth-grade invention discussion, was so proud.

The Myszas celebrate Christmas at Longhorn Steakhouse in 2018. From left, Malerie’s father Brian and mother Laura, sister Alanna, Malerie, sisters Ashley and Adriana, and brother Sam. Brian currently resides in a brain injury rehab facility in Pittsburgh.

And the adult me finds herself one step closer to fulfilling her lifelong goal – opening a rehabilitation facility that specializes in brain injuries, where  practitioners ask, “What matters to you?” instead of “What’s the matter with you?”

My college experience was wonderful inspiration and training for my future.

  • I interned for the Cincinnati nonprofit InReturn, leading a life skills class for brain injury survivors.
  • I volunteered for the rehabilitation department in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
  • I started a nonprofit organization, GIVE at UC, to promote sustainability and encourage volunteerism abroad.
  • And I took two life-changing mission trips to Nicaragua and Thailand, where I worked with children, built schools, was involved with turtle conservation and worked in an elephant hospital.

Malerie Mysza teaches English to children in Chiang Dao, Thailand, during a mission trip from May to June 2019.

Without Kids’ Chance, none of this would have been possible. I always say the most important thing is time and how you make the most of it. Kids’ Chance of Ohio’s altruism and generosity has – so far – given me the most life-affirming time of all.

I am beyond happy. And somewhere deep inside, I hope my father is too.

If you would like to support Kids’ Chance of Ohio or know someone who can benefit from its scholarships, please visit https://kidschanceohio.org.

 

 

Customers show us the love during COVID-19

BWC’s economic, health and safety initiatives draw high praise

By Winnie Warren, BWC Interim Chief of Employer Services

Working for the state of Ohio, we all know our job is to serve our fellow Ohioans and hopefully make a positive difference in their lives, so it’s gratifying when our colleagues and leaders take note — an email or video message from Administrator Stephanie McCloud, for instance, or a nod from Governor Mike DeWine at his daily press briefings.

But it’s doubly rewarding when the people you serve reach out and thank you themselves. We’ve received many emails, phone calls and social media posts in recent weeks praising our efforts to help business owners through the COVID-19 pandemic. One call in particular stands out. It was from Heather Baines, the founder and president of HR Construction Services LLC in Cleveland.

Heather Baines, founder and president, HR Construction Services in Cleveland

Heather wanted to personally thank us for two things — a check she received in late April for $9,450, her company’s share of the $1.6 billion dividend we sent to Ohio employers to ease the impact of COVID-19 on their bottom line. She also appreciated the box of 50 face coverings we sent her as part of our Protecting Ohio’s Workforce – We’ve got you covered initiative.

She said both were blessings at a critical time.

“Between the financial help and the masks, it almost made me want to cry because it shows I’m not forgotten,” Heather said. “There have been some terrible days – days where I questioned, ‘What am I doing and why am I still doing this?’”

Heather told me about her business, that all the reasons she started her company — to hire local contractors and bring diversity to jobsites in her hometown while growing a minority-owned business — were coming to fruition. Then the pandemic hit and made a mess of everything.

Getting that check from BWC meant everything, she said. It meant she could pay her workers, her office rent, purchase jobsite materials and fund her employees’ benefits. (Nearly 200,000 Ohio employers received a dividend, which roughly equaled their entire BWC premium in policy year 2018.)

“We’re still new in the construction industry, so paying on time is huge for me,” said Heather, who founded her company in 2015. “That’s a great reputation to have. The money goes out as quick as it comes in, but that check was tremendous and made a big difference.”

The face coverings were another godsend, she said. In late May we started sending at least 2 million face coverings to employers across the state to weaken COVID-19’s spread. We’re not billing employers for this initiative. At less than a dollar a piece, we’re picking up the tab from this year’s budget.

Heather told me her employees had been wearing disposable masks that cost her up to $5 a piece, and they were using the same one on multiple days because supply was hard to find. Her neighbor, who was making masks for health care workers, made some for Heather’s employees, too. Then BWC’s shipment arrived.

“It meant a whole lot that my company was a part of the distribution,” she said. “So often things are given to larger companies, and it’s the smaller ones that can really use the help.”

Thank you to Heather for sharing her story. We’re so glad our mission and agency values of providing superior customer service show up in a myriad of ways. We’re proud to serve Ohioans every day, but especially in their greatest time of need.

Crew members of HR Construction Services in Cleveland wear face coverings provided by BWC while working on an overpass in Cleveland.

Stand down focuses on keeping workers safe in trenches

By Michael Marr, BWC Safety Technical Resources Consultant

In February, a 34-year-old worker died when a trench he was working in collapsed in Licking County. Just last month, a trench collapse killed two workers in Starkville, Mississippi.

Unfortunately, these tragic incidents are reminders of the potential dangers of trenching and excavation work. However, most trenching injuries and fatalities are preventable with proper training and safety equipment.

The 2020 Trench Safety Stand Down, scheduled for June 15-19 and sponsored by the National Utility Contractors Association, gives employers an opportunity to talk directly to their workforce and others about trenching and excavation hazards and to reinforce the importance of protecting workers from them.

The Trench Safety Stand Down encourages employers to take a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity to draw attention to the specific hazards related to working in and around trenches and excavations.

At BWC, we support the stand down and we are strongly committed to preventing trenching accidents, which are often deadly. Earlier this year, we launched the Trench Safety Ohio campaign with accompanying website, TrenchSafetyOhio.com, to increase awareness of the hazards of working in trenches and promoting safe trenching work practices.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we realize it may be a challenge to conduct in-person events, but you can still share resources like our trench safety card (in English and Spanish) with your workers. You also can find additional items and information on our Trench safety resources page.

Additionally, the BWC Learning Center has a recorded webinar – Trenching Overview: A Focus Four Initiative – you and your employees can view for free. Simply log in to the BWC Learning Center, search for Trenching Overview, click the link, and enroll. Employers who have not yet established a BWC Learning Center login can view instructions here.

Whether it’s watching a webinar, sharing videos or information online, or having a smaller event, following proper physical distancing protocols, we hope you’ll take part in the 2020 Trench Safety Stand Down.

Additional resources
OSHA Trenching and Excavation webpage
NIOSH Trenching and Excavation webpage
CPWR Trench Safety webpage

Memorial Day

A Day to Remember and Honor

By Judi Grant, BWC Electronic Design Specialist

Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

One special veteran always comes to mind – my grandfather, Raymond Harley Petty. I honor his memory on this day, and I think about all the veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Although we never met, I carry the impression my grandfather left on my family — respect and love for country, and service to it.

Grandpa enlisted in the Army March 26, 1943, in Columbus. He was 27 and married to my maternal grandmother, Millie.

Pvt. Petty was assigned to the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, which shipped out from Boston on April 6, 1944. His battalion arrived in England on April 17, 1944, then landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, just weeks after D-Day. From there, all my family knew was that my grandfather died from wounds suffered in Germany.

I had searched for years for details on his death. All my inquiries ended the same way, “I’m sorry, all records were burnt in a fire.” In 2019, my father-in-law, Don Grant, a veteran himself, found the answers I was seeking.

We learned my grandfather’s war wounds cost him his left leg, and he died of a blood clot on Nov. 16, 1944 in a hospital in Cambridge, England. Before passing, he received the Purple Heart.

Seven days later, my mother, also named Millie, turned 1. My grandfather had seen pictures of her, but the two never met.

For four years, my grandfather’s remains lay in a beautiful U.S. Military Cemetery in Cambridge, 42 miles northeast of London. In 1948, the Army moved his remains to his final resting place in Beckett Cemetery in Commercial Point, Ohio, about 25 minutes south of downtown Columbus in Pickaway County.

Thanks to my father-in-law’s research, we learned Grandpa was eligible for more than the Purple Heart. In 2018, we received four additional medals, including the Presidential Unit Citation.

I was so proud I immediately framed the medals and other mementoes in a shadow box that hangs in my home office.

Still, something was missing.

I’ve been saddened over the years that I never had a picture of my grandparents and mother together. But that changed last year. On my mother’s birthday, I was looking through old photos and discovered one I had never seen —my grandfather, dressed in full military uniform, standing close to my grandma, who was pregnant with my mother at the time.

I found what I needed.

I am beyond grateful for my grandfather’s sacrifice and that of so many others. On this Memorial Day, as I always do, I’ll ache for the life cut short, the young man who never held his only child, the father my mother never knew. But I will celebrate his life, too.

Thank you, Grandpa.

Military details courtesy of www.tankdestroyer.net.

BWC nurse battles COVID-19 on front lines

May is National Nurses Month. BWC nurse tells her story.

By Jennifer Wolford RN, Medical Service Specialist, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Away from my BWC job as a medical service specialist, I work as an intermittent nurse in an emergency department (ED) at an Akron-area hospital on weekends. Since the community spread of COVID-19 began, being an ED nurse means the odds of being exposed again and again to this virus are virtually guaranteed.

BWC nurse Jennifer Wolford, RN, works on weekends in the emergency department at an Akron-area hospital.

My colleagues and I can’t see this invisible killer, of course, but we see its impact on our patients and on each other. Not just the physical symptoms, but the fear — you can see it on their faces, you can feel it. We’ve watched patients die from this disease.

I wear a face mask and face shield for my entire 12-hour shift to protect myself and my co-workers. After my shift ends, I cover my car seat with a towel and wipe down my door handles, steering wheel, and other parts with Clorox wipes. When I come home, I immediately put my clothes into the washing machine on sanitize. I use a Clorox wipe to clean anything I touched.

After I shower, I again sanitize everything I touched. I keep a safe distance from my family. Basically, I treat myself as though I actually have COVID-19 because we know people with the disease might have it for days and weeks without showing any symptoms.

This is my life. I have a son with multiple disabilities; I can’t take any risks. Until there is a vaccine, my reality looks a lot different – this is my new normal.

Respect the virus

This is everybody’s new normal, actually. That’s why I support Governor Mike DeWine’s encouragement for all of us to wear a face mask in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. You may believe you don’t have the virus, or you may feel silly wearing a mask, but none of us is safe from this disease.

Case in point: My family has a friend who is just 58 and otherwise healthy, no co-morbidities. He had the coronavirus and was on a ventilator for nearly three weeks. Thankfully, he is recovering now. Unlike my friend’s mom, my ex-husband’s stepfather, and perhaps someone you know, too.

A colleague asked me the other day, “You work at BWC now, why put yourself at risk working in an emergency department, especially these days?”

I’m a nurse, I told him. It’s what we do.

The American Nurses Association promotes May as Nurses Month to support and recognize nurses for their contributions in crises and for their ongoing roles in meeting the needs of patients and their communities.