Street Talk: Call it like you see it

Cover up.
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Dr. Jihad Mustapha has a problem with calling dead health care workers heroes instead of what he believes they truly are — victims of inaction.

The co-founder and CEO of Advanced Cardiac and Vascular Centers for Amputation and Prevention in Grand Rapids was featured in a video from Simple Shield, where he expressed resentment for calling health care workers heroes.

“Being in the intensive care units, it just brings you that much closer to the reality of how fragile we humans can be,” Mustapha said.

Mustapha argued the use of the word “hero” is propaganda to lessen the impact of workers dying because of COVID-19, rather than chasing the root cause, which he said is inaction in the face of the virus.

“We can’t justify the deaths of these doctors and nurses by saying, ‘they’re heroes,’” Mustapha said. “Please don’t justify our death and prepare us by saying, ‘If you die, you’re going to be a hero.’ We don’t want the recognition. We just want the support, so we can save lives.”

In the video, Mustapha didn’t lay the blame on anyone specifically; rather, he said health care workers most often die because they don’t have enough protective gear.

“Every time someone dies, I want people to think, ‘somebody screwed up,’” Mustapha said. “They did not protect this doctor or this nurse, and they died. They’re not heroes. I call them victims.”

Mustapha said he’d had enough when his friend, an ER doctor in New Jersey, succumbed to the virus, but what hit him the hardest was how casually people dismissed his death.

“No one talked about it. It wasn’t in the news. It wasn’t anywhere,” Mustapha said. “The guy just vanished. They moved him out of the way, put somebody in his place and moved on. We can’t make that acceptable.”

The Business Journal previously covered ACV’s efforts to secure enough PPE, not only for its own staff, but for hospitals in the area.

ACV is donating almost 5,000 respirator masks to local hospitals, as well as providing more than 500 masks to patients as personal protection equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

After securing enough for its own staff of 75, ACV donated remaining masks to Mercy Health St. Mary’s, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, Forest View Hospital, Spectrum Health Hospitals and Spectrum Health Rehabilitation.

Advice to grads

The nearly 4 million students estimated to graduate with a degree this year, according to EducationData.org, expected to enter into one of the tightest labor markets in recent history, but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent statewide shutdowns costing millions of jobs have sent the country into a likely recession. 

College grads could fare well in this environment if they have patience and are able to adapt to the needs of employers, according to one workplace authority.

“Companies are dealing with a lot of unknowns at the moment. Many will report they are hiring one day and the next, those plans go out the window. College grads who can adapt to this uncertainty and offer themselves as a solution could do very well right now,” said Andrew Challenger, SVP of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In fact, 61% of companies are not planning to revoke any job offers. However, that number is down from 63% just a week earlier, and another 23% are considering revoking these offers.

This is according to ongoing polling from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Their survey, conducted among 284 employers with results published April 17, also found that only a small number of respondents said they were revoking offers, suggesting companies are grappling with a lot of uncertainty about how they will proceed going forward.

Meanwhile, in a recent Challenger survey conducted among 254 companies at the end of March, 37% of respondents reported they had instituted a hiring freeze.

“Companies are planning to eventually reopen their worksites and are creating policies to keep their workers safe, such as providing or allowing masks, taking temperatures at the door or limiting the number of staff in the office at any given time. Determining what to do about new, entry-level hires is a different animal,” Challenger said.

“In many ways, in a time when the ability to work virtually and familiarity with the technological tools that allow this are valuable skills, new college graduates are attractive prospects to many organizations.”

The majority of companies report despite the pandemic, they are still hiring. In the Challenger survey, 47% of companies responded they are hiring right now, and another 10% are hiring for critical positions. The vast majority (80%) of respondents are hiring by phone or video conferencing apps.

“College grads with in-demand skills, particularly in biosciences, health care and engineering, will find job prospects more easily, especially as many companies in the U.S. work to provide medical equipment, testing and treatment to COVID patients,” Challenger said.

“While those fields tend to always be in demand, companies need people with a background in business as they navigate completely novel business environments, technical writers and communicators to help convey information to the workforce about new virus-related procedures, data scientists and researchers to help develop growth opportunities, and IT professionals to implement virtual and remote business and work options.”

Challenger offered the following tips for college grads:

  • Start your job search immediately.
  • Create a list of accomplishments to discuss with contacts.
  • Create and build relationships right now.
  • Start or continue doing volunteer work and include it in your resume.
  • Look for contract work opportunities related to your degree.
  • Keep your options open.
  • Don’t give up.

 

Mask makers

Thanks to ongoing donations of handmade face masks from people throughout West Michigan, Spectrum Health will begin distributing the masks to those in the community who most need them.

The decision comes in the wake of a CDC recommendation that everyone wear a reusable mask when leaving their home as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Because people in the community have been so generous with their time and talents, we have collected more than 6,000 masks,” said Kurt Knoth, vice president of supply chain, Spectrum Health. “We encourage those who are able, to please continue making and donating masks. This will help us to reduce the community spread of COVID-19 by providing the reusable masks to the people within our communities in greatest need.”

Long-term care facilities, home health workers and nonprofit organizations aligned with Spectrum Health are among the groups initially identified to receive masks, based on supply and demand.

Spectrum Health will collect the homemade masks at its designated drop-off sites and expresses its thanks to those who have stepped up to create them. Organizations interested in receiving a supply of masks should email a request to covid19supplies@spectrumhealth.org.

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