Public health nurse quits job after ‘feeling like a fraud’ during COVID response

Liz Collin spoke with Laura Van Luven, a public health nurse who quit because the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic made her feel "like a fraud."

Laura Van Luven with her husband and children. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

On the latest episode of “Liz Collin Reports,” Liz spoke with a former public health nurse in Minneapolis who left the field after she said responses to the COVID pandemic made her and her work feel fraudulent.

Laura Van Luven, who graduated from nursing school in 2008 and once worked in East Africa, echoed some of the thoughts she shared in a Brownstone Institute article titled “I Will Not Force a Medical Treatment on Anyone.”

“For the first couple years, it was almost exactly as I’d hoped. But when the pandemic hit, I saw a totally myopic focus on one respiratory illness and a near complete disregard for any other aspect of health,” she wrote. “For the first time in my career, I was told to ignore suffering and forget best practices. Every day, I felt like a fraud.”

When Liz asked her to elaborate on just what she meant by “feeling like a fraud,” Van Luven said she was trained as a family health nurse to incorporate considerations of mental and social health in her practice. Even pre-pandemic, she remembered feeling concerned for new mothers who were isolated for various reasons.

But then COVID came, and Van Luven suddenly found herself prevented from doing home visits, which exacerbated an already difficult situation for the families she encountered.

When asked if caring for these families “from afar” worked during the pandemic, Van Luven admitted the quality of the services she was able to provide took a significant hit.

“I couldn’t do an actual nursing assessment on [a] baby. I could ask mom a lot of questions, but then I was just saying, ‘You need to go to your doctor for this or that,’ without actually being able to lay eyes on the child,” she said, adding that “I don’t feel like I was able to counsel people like I used to.”

Van Luven with her children. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

Such counsel, Van Luven said, included practical but important advice like the dangers of secondhand smoke, or showing an overwhelmed mother how to use a dishwasher.

She also commented on some of the heartbreaking stories she told in her Brownstone Institute article that reveal the human cost of government-imposed lockdowns. One in particular was about a single mother of five children, four of whom had special needs, who would park at grocery stores to try to get workers to shop for her.

“At the time, a lot of grocery stores were saying, ‘Don’t bring your kids. Come by yourself, we don’t want you having a lot of people with you.’ That was really the messaging that was coming out of the stores and public health,” Van Luven said. “And if you have five children and they’re not at school, what are you supposed to do?”

Van Luven also pointed out that she was required to follow policies that negatively impacted “the poor and racial minorities” while the agencies responsible for these policies were declaring racism a “public health crisis.”

“It felt like we are taking away some of the lifelines that many people of color really rely on,” she said.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Liz Collin Reports” here.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.