As an emergency room nurse, Katherine Lockler, has seen it all this flu season.
After a 12-hour shift, Lockler took to Facebook to issue a not-so-gentle reminder about common ways to prevent the flu from spreading she claimed both sick and healthy people had been ignoring.
Acknowledging the particularly bad flu season this year—stating the flu is “spreading like wildfire”—Lockler said healthy people were putting themselves at risk by visiting sick people in the hospital.
Recounting the story of an entire sports team visiting their sick friend, Lockler said not one person in the room took advantage of hand sanitizer:
“You do not bring the entire [team] in to check on them because guess what? You just got maybe 15 new vectors, or carriers, of the flu by them all walking in. Which I watched them each walk in last night, see their friend, and not touch the hand sanitizer not once.”
Lockler warned that emergency rooms are “a cesspool of flu, a cesspool of funky flu” and asked that healthy people stay away—especially healthy children. As she pleaded:
“Please don’t bring your healthy children in, especially your newborn babies into the emergency room. And if you do not have what I call a true emergency, this would not be the time to come to the emergency room.”
In an interview with Pensacola News Journal, Lockler explained she wanted to share her perspective on this year’s flu season as a health care provider:
“The biggest problem for me was seeing people come in to visit and not only being exposed to this awful flu virus, but not taking the correct precautions to get themselves disinfected before going out in the world.”
Lockler told the publication she witnessed many people failing to practice common sense when it came to protecting themselves— and others—from the flu. She recalled a father who let his toddler crawl around the floor of the emergency room:
“I saw a dad with a toddler crawling on the floor in the emergency room and I approached him and I said, ‘Hey dad, I do not feel that that’s a wise decision, your child is being exposed to some really nasty germs on this emergency room floor.’ And instead of the dad receiving what a nurse of 10 years is sharing with him, he said, ‘Eh, it’s no big deal, it’ll build his immune system.’ So there’s a lack of understanding and a lack of interest in knowing what to do to protect themselves sometimes.”
While demonstrating how to properly sneeze into the crook of the elbow on camera, Lockler pointed out another instance in which she has watched sick people sneeze into their bare hands, calling it “amazing” how few reached for hand sanitizer afterward:
“And I watch, no one grabs the hand sanitizer that’s only every three feet in the ER.”
Lockler has received both praise and criticism for her video. Social media comments were mostly positive:
However, a post on Care2 Petitions states Lockler has been reported to the Board of Registered Nursing at her hospital in light of the video, which has been viewed nearly five million times and shared more than 100,000 times.
According to the Washington Post, Brad Dalton, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health, said he could not comment on complaints unless probable cause is established. Dalton explained if the health department “does not find sufficient information (probable cause) to further investigate the complaint,” the complaint is not made public.
Lockler, a mother of four, told the Pensacola News Journal she was aware her video sounded a touch condescending, the result of having good advice ignored. She said:
“The message is still right on the money, but if the tone was offensive, that was not the intention.”
As Dearly previously reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that while every year is a “bad” year for the flu in the United States, the most common form of the virus this year, influenza A, H3N2, is linked to more severe illnesses, resulting in more hospitalizations and more deaths, according to CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald.
Though Lockler may aim to reach viewers through humor, the ER nurse isn’t kidding with her advice to stay healthy. Her best advice? “Wash your stinkin’ hands.”
Watch Lockler’s video below: