The Facilitator

The FM COVID-19 Diaries Part III – “The Smell of Cut Plywood in The Morning”

Today marks exactly three months into lockdowns, and we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel as more and more phased openings are occurring over multiple industries. Yes some states are more open than others. Yes some states are experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases, which is expected. We still remain in a strange limbo, a surreal purgatory, that – while the light can be seen – it seems more folks continue to remain wrapped up or even more so. 

My defensive, morning-running strategy continues to span beyond horrible Jersey drivers, giving others at minimum 18 feet. Yet, make a wrong move, and masks go up on walkers otherwise trying to inhale some fresh air, sometimes even car windows too. I get it, but still a minor wave of annoyance trickles through my existence.

Then, to make things worse, shocking police brutality led to civil unrest in the country and took off like a flame to dry tinder. Some peaceful protests turned into rioting, looting and destruction of property in many US cities, including New York. It seems nothing was left unscathed. Certainly the lockdowns had something to do with the societal volcanic explosion, giving it some extra umph...

As mentioned in a previous diary entry, I changed jobs in the middle of the global pandemic which was very odd with so many others being unfortunately laid off and furloughed. I literally started a new FACILITIES position with a new employer while working from my home office. Because my new role is in the health industry, all our national clinics, including network locations, have opened to the public, and business is picking up quite rapidly; but the NYC corporate office remains closed and staff continue to work remotely until our re-opening sometime in mid-July 2020. 

Nevertheless, I still venture in the city once a week to visit the office to make sure all is okay and to check in on the adjacent clinic and staff. My new office is a nice, 20-minute walk northward from Penn Station through Times Square. Lately it includes following the boarded-up storefronts and trying to make sense of their patterns on my travels. The city largely remains a ghost town, though signs of life have increased with each visit.  It is still very eerily quiet. To bastardize a famous movie quote: “…the smell of cut plywood in the morning,”

Ironically, with my previous employer, I scoured the globe looking for virus-related supplies (i.e. masks, gloves, etc.), using both conventional and unconventional means to find them. On my first-ever tour of my new workspace, I discovered that my new employer has a 15 x 15 supply room with a healthy surplus of supplies that the rest of the universe is searching high and low for and my old employer would sell its soul for.

Equally ironically, in order for me to step foot in my new office and clinic, even as empty as it is, I have to have my temperature taken and have a COVID -19 and antibodies test on a weekly basis. My company has test kits that can tell you in less than five minutes with accuracy. They are costly to the public but free for employees. 

It is comforting to know my diagnosis in real time when its was only a couple of months ago that doctors were stumped why I was blind-sided by a potentially deadly Pulmonary Embolism (PE – lung blood clot), reported to be brought on mild cases of COVID-19, only to test negative BUT test positive for antibodies. A strange virus indeed.

Although we are in unprecedented times, I remain hopeful that we will slowly crawl out of the rabbit hole that we allowed ourselves to fall too far down in and, as previously stated, there are growing, positive signs we are. I am still wondering if an alien invasion is due. If so, then I can honestly say that after the virus-riot-alien trifecta, I would have truly seen everything in my professional career. That is, unless Armageddon is scheduled for 1st quarter 2021.

Paul Haley, CFM, FMP, Facilities Manager at EHE Health, Professional Development Committee Member/ CFM Certified Instructor Candidate, Communications Committee Member

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