An Interview with Madelyn Ball, RN
AT THE TIME OF THIS INTERVIEW MADELYN WAS A CNA IN UPPER MICHIGAN. SHE HAS SINCE GRADUATED NURSING SCHOOL AND IS NOW AN RN.
What is your current title?
Madelyn: I have a CNA license.
How many years of experience do you have?
M: I worked in a Long-Term Care Nursing Facility for two and a half years. I just left that because I'm finishing up nursing school and going to be getting a nursing job soon, so I’m focusing on studying right now.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
M: When I worked at Canal View, at the nursing home, I did the afternoon shift so 3 to 11. You have dinner obviously, you're helping them go to the bathroom before and after dinner, you're showering them and getting them ready for bed. I normally had, on average, 10 patients that I had to take care of as a CNA. The most I've had was 16, so it gets really busy and you're usually really short-staffed so you're running around and trying to do things as best you can and as clean as you, but that doesn't always happen.
Are you exposed to fluids on a regular basis?
M: Like I said a lot of what we do is activities of daily living, like helping people go to the bathroom and feeding, so you're exposing yourself to a lot of fluids, sometimes fluids are leaking all over the place. You’re doing all of the backbone work in a healthcare setting.
Do you clean your work shoes at work at all?
M: Yes, and it is definitely harder when I wear tennis shoes to work. With nursing school clinicals, we have to wear plain white shoes without holes in them so I just resorted to buying Crocs. I always wipe them down with a sanitizer wipe or a Clorox wipe or something after. I've always been a very cleanly person so wiping everything down has always been a habit of mine. There’s fluid all over the place in both settings so you just never know so
Do you feel that your work shoes are sufficiently clean after you clean them?
M: Not when I am wearing tennis shoes. If something spills on you it obviously soaks into the shoe, so how much can a wipe really get off? And you still just feel kind of gross. I don't even bring my shoes inside. I usually put them in a bag and leave them outside because I said I didn't want to bring any of that bacteria into my house, especially with Covid.
Do you worry about infection exposure or bringing disease home on your shoes? I know you said Covid-19 is a worry, but what about beforehand?
M: Where I work we have had MRSA and VRSA. That kind of stuff gets in the urine. Then you’re dealing with catheter bags and I've had catheter bags leak. So I have always worried about bringing home a disease, so like I said that's why I've always kept my shoes outside [at home]. Then I'll take all my clothes off and I'll go shower right away before I walk around my home or touch anything I don’t need to, because I don't know what kind of germ is still lurking on me no matter how much PPE I had on.
Have you ever gotten sick yourself from work, or brought it home to anyone at home who then got sick?
M: Luckily no. That was a fear of mine with Covid especially. Whenever I went to itch my face I thought, did I put GermX on? Am I going to get sick or am I going to give this to my mom and my mom's going to get sick? So I was definitely scared. Anytime I was more nervous than normal I would stay at my boyfriend's to be safe.
Do you work in an area with Covid risk?
M: Over the past summer we turned the rehab unit into the Covid unit, so if we did have an outbreak in the nursing home that I worked at all of the infected people would go downstairs to isolate from the rest of the building. I did that basically the entire summer.
How do you currently protect yourself from those like infectious fluid at work?
M: I'm very diligent with PPE. I have seen some people that are like oh yeah that's fine don't put the shoe covers on or some people will say oh no I don't wear the hairnet. I always wear the shoe covers and put on my hairnet because I just don't want to bring something home and risk my loved ones. I am also always washing my hands, they are so dry.
I know you said you don’t bring your work shoes inside after work, but do you clean them at all when you are home?
M: I let them air out for a while and at some point wipe them down again before I put them back on.