As the coronavirus outbreak continues we wanted to share how foster youth is impacted. Today we spoke with one of our Family Fellowship scholars Bryanna about her experience helping fight the coronavirus in Detroit, MI.
Some Insight on Bryanna
We meet Bryanna when she became part of our Family Fellowship a few years back. She spent her childhood in foster care and at 13 was adopted. Unfortunately, the placement did not work out and she became homeless at 17. Even with such obstacles, Bryanna was selected to join our Family Fellowship program that awards scholarship money and familiar like guidance to foster youth in college. She graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Public Health from Ferris State University and is currently pursuing her masters is Public Health there. Honestly, we could not be more proud of her. Not only for being a great student but for helping fight the coronavirus as a former foster youth.
Currently, Bryanna works at a large hospital in Detroit as the Patient Experience Liaison. We reached out to her to find out more about how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting her, foster youth, and the community.
Q: How Have You Been Impacted by the COVID-19 Outbreak?
A: I have been greatly impacted by the current pandemic. As a patient experience liaison, I have been tasked with the responsibility to help communicate the various changes happening in our facility to the public. I have been tasked with preparing COVID-19 test kits for our hospital. Having prepared and cleaned quarantine houses, and have gathered and sorted various donations. I am on-call 24/7. My days have been filled with tasks I never thought I would have to do. I am exhausted. Mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted. We all are.
Q. What are Steps You are Taking to Manage During the Outbreak?
A: Since I am an “essential support member” in my hospital, I am practically bathing in sanitizer and soap! Unfortunately, I cannot quarantine, but I am social distancing and not seeing friends or family during this time period, to protect them from possible exposure. I am checking my temperature twice daily, as well as monitoring myself for any symptoms! Luckily I am symptom-free, and if and when I should start to show symptoms I will then quarantine myself for AT LEAST 2 weeks.
Q: How has this Outbreak Impacted Your Community?
A: I live in the largest outbreak zone in Michigan. The three counties I live by make up the majority of our confirmed cases. As of today, the city of Detroit (where I work) has 851 cases out of 2,856 total cases in Michigan. The state of Michigan currently is under “lockdown” and has implemented a “Stay home, Stay safe” executive order.
Q: How Do You Think this is Impacting Current and Former Foster Youth?
A: This is GREATLY impacting current and former foster youth. This pandemic greatly impacts mental health, which is something foster youth often struggle with. I know personally, I have had to reschedule my therapy appointments to protect my therapist from possible exposure, and unfortunately, since I live with others and have minimal privacy telemedicine isn’t really a valid option at the moment.
Additionally, social distancing can cause many people to feel alone and their mental health can deteriorate quickly. Moreover, many foster youth (current and former) struggle to access healthcare due to limited funds or because they are without proper insurance. With that said, we know poverty is an issue in our demographic and this pandemic is leaving many individuals without income causing loads of other issues.
Q: What have You Been Experiencing with Helping the Pandemic?
A. My hospital has over 100 confirmed cases. The shortage of protective equipment is real. Choosing who gets to live and who gets to die based on the ventilator shortage is real. Having exhaustion 24/7 but still having to get up and help for the greater good is something we have to do on a daily basis. Not having enough test kits to confirm the many pending cases in the hospital is real. I have seen people breakdown and cry because they are so overworked but there is still so much more to get done.
However, I have also seen the good. I have seen people come together to help anywhere and everywhere needed. Seen the community come together and buy our entire hospital pizza. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and it is nowhere near over.
Q: What is Some Advice or Words of Wisdom You can Share with People in the Foster Community?
A: STAY SAFE and STAY INSIDE! This is not just the flu. This is so much more. Our healthcare system here in America is NOT equipped to handle a pandemic. Many people are going to get this virus, and you are asymptomatic for a long time (meaning that you don’t know that your sick but you are still spreading it like you would if you had symptoms). Testing is VERY LIMITED. FACE MASKS SHOULD BE SAVED FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS. If you do have a face mask, please limit the wear of that mask. Once that mask gets moist (from talking or breathing), it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and can actually make you sick. Only wear the mask if you have to go in public and are around a lot of people.
Also, connect with people (virtually). Help when you can, and keep yourself sane and healthy. Create a routine if you are in quarantine and have nothing to do. Pick up a hobby and try something new. Take care of yourself in every way you can. This WILL end, but we need everyone’s help to stop the spread of this virus.
Q. Any Additional Thoughts You’d Like to Share?
A. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. Do your research and stay safe!
In conclusion, we are grateful to Bryanna for sharing her experience as a foster youth fighting the coronavirus. We are so unbelievably proud of the work she is doing in her community. This could not be possible without our supporters. Together we truly do amazing things. Stay safe, continue to practice social distancing.
For those wanting to help foster youth during the coronavirus outbreak, get in touch here.