Partial Transcript: The interviewer, Peggy Cummins offers a brief overview of the COVID-19 oral history project.
Tell me who you were prior to your knowledge of the gravity of the COVID virus and what you were doing?
Segment Synopsis: The interviewee, Virginia Bush explains that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic she was working as a nurse in long-term care after retiring from the VA (Veterans Affairs). She is a wife and a mother of four children and a grandmother to three grandchildren. Bush was the health ministry nurse for St. William Catholic Parish and the La Casita Center. She explains that she is involved with environmental and racial justice activism.
Keywords: Health Ministry Nursing; La Casita Center; Long-term Care Nursing; St. William Catholic Church; Veterans Affairs
Partial Transcript: Describe then, the differences after you found out about the gravity of COVID and what happened in your personal life and in your professional life.
Segment Synopsis: In Bush's professional life, as she is in the high-risk category for COVID-19, she was not able to work. Her life slowed down dramatically. She states that it was nice to be home for a while until her family began to experience the financial impact of her being out of work. Bush is the caregiver to her elderly parents, and she describes the stress of trying to keep them safe while also finding reliable healthcare for them throughout the early days of the pandemic. Bush talks about the stresses the pandemic has brought onto long-term care facilities and the impact it has had on the people who live in these facilities in terms of physical health and mental health from isolation.
Bush describes some of the changes that had to be made in her healthcare ministry, such as the switch to telehealth appointments. She discusses the lack of internet access for the people she serves in her ministry and trying to help them get online for their medical appointments and education.
Cummins and Bush discuss in further detail the isolation in nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the pandemic.
Bush states the worry and stress that goes along with testing and wondering if you are infected with COVID-19. She states that she has been tested nine to ten times during the pandemic. Sometimes she had to travel to other counties to get tested due to the lack of COVID-19 testing facilities in Louisville.
Bush reveals that her father has been in the hospital and she is the designated visitor for him. She was with him from 10 am to 7 pm most days. Her daughter-in-law was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and has to attend her medical appointments alone.
Bush describes how hard it is to have physical distance from her family and especially her grandchildren. Cummins and Bush discuss helping their grandchildren with NTI (non-traditional instruction).
Keywords: Distance Learning; Long-term care facilities; Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI)
Partial Transcript: Do you think this pandemic has been politicized?
How do you think the pandemic has been handled locally?
Segment Synopsis: Bush states that for the first month of the pandemic, it felt as though everyone was pulling together, and that quickly devolved. She states that mask wearing has caused a lot of strife between communities and families.
Bush is upset by the lack of rapid testing in Jefferson County and describes the long delays in receiving test results.
Bush believes that Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has done his best to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. She describes her confusion and outrage over the protestors bringing assault weapons and hanging effigies of the governor to protest mask mandates and COVD-19 shutdowns and procedures. She discusses how differently white supremacists groups are treated by the police and law enforcement in comparison to other demonstrators.
Bush describes how Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have been met with such opposition from the federal government.
Bush and Cummins discuss the opportunity for a vaccine, trials, side effects, and lack of trust.
Keywords: Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Partial Transcript: Has anything good happened in your life as a result of the virus?
Segment Synopsis: Bush states that life has slowed down. She has worked on projects around the house, such as landscaping. Bush describes her difficulty to stay focused on Zoom meetings. Bush and Cummins discuss virtual church services.
Cummins and Bush discuss the importance of physical touch and the long-term mental impact of a lack of physical contact. Bush's patients in the long-term care facility have been losing their mobility due to isolation.
Partial Transcript: Virginia, think about fifty to one-hundred years from now when historians are going to analyze this period, what do you think will be their take on it?
Segment Synopsis: Bush states that there will be a lot of analysis on why we were unprepared. She states that former President George W. Bush pushed for pandemic preparedness. Bush describes the American rise of individualism, self-righteousness, and the emphasis on profit over the common good. Bush and Cummins discuss the protections of the rich and American exceptionalism. Bush relates the way the pandemic has been handled to the environment in terms of profit over the protections of our shared resources.
Bush shares a story about an assignment her grandchild had in preparing for reconciliation at their Catholic school.
Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little bit about the pandemic within the pandemic, the racial unrest. Virginia, do you think that it's in anyway related to the virus?
Segment Synopsis: Bush states that the incidences that initiated the protests, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor did not have anything to do with the virus. However, Bush states that Black people and people of color are much more negatively impacted by the virus, by climate change, and overall suffer from poor public health conditions. Bush and Cummins discuss the unjust deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and how their reputations and lives are put on display in the media. They discuss the economic impact and social and political stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bush and Cummins discuss police brutality. Bush shares that there was a time in her life when she was stalked, and that the police response to her calls regarding her personal safety were met with a demeaning and apathetic response.
Partial Transcript: After the acute phase dies down and maybe we have a vaccine, what do you think a new normal will look like?
Segment Synopsis: Bush thinks that people will be a lot more guarded, people will continue to work from home, people will think more critically about their jobs and what is really important to people. Bush states that this generation of Americans have not dealt with this degree of death and mourning. Bush hopes that we will look critically at our health care systems, the inequity of them, and the price of healthcare.
Cummins closes the interview by thanking Bush for her time.