How is COVID-19 impacting your life?
I’ve been living at a Marriott property in the Cleveland area for the last month. I travel for work because there is a need in that community for somebody with my training. The hotel and staff have been unbelievably supportive, it’s been like a second home.
I also provide remote medical consultations through a company in New York City. The expanded use of telehealth is invaluable for people that may not have immediate access to care. But like we tell the callers; there’s no substitute for an emergency department visit when you need one.
My family life has been disrupted and it hasn’t been easy. Normally, I’d return home to Georgia to be with my husband, kids, dogs and cat when I’m between shifts in the emergency department. I made the difficult but necessary choice to stay apart because I dare not infect them. It was hard to miss our traditional Easter dinner, but everyone is very understanding.
Your day sounds incredibly busy. What do you do when you’re not in the emergency department?
Art can be therapeutic after a long shift. My friends are really rising to the occasion, sending me fun gifts and coloring books. I also crochet and cannot wait to see what happens next on British Bake Off.
My whole family is invested in this effort. We talk as much as we can on video calls. My son wants to go to medical school and my cousin is making masks for the community. I gave a few to my Marriott family, we have to keep them safe, too!
What are you seeing at your emergency department?
This might sound odd but one reason I love emergency medicine is that crisis brings out the best in people. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful team – nurses, doctors, secretaries, janitorial staff, everyone’s rallying to treat and protect as many people as we can.
There are fewer patients in many places right now. That’s really concerning because I know that the usual emergencies couldn’t have just disappeared. Where are all the heart attacks, strokes or falls?
I want people to know that the emergency department is safe. Please don’t delay medical care if you need it.
Do you have enough PPE?
I operate under the assumption that I’ve been exposed to COVID-19, although I feel fine. I bought a P100 mask on Amazon, personal protective equipment is being rationed at my hospital to avoid running out.
What would you like to tell your patients?
Direct contact between COVID-19 patients and doctors is minimal and visitors are limited. If you are sick, I want you to know you are not alone. You’re with an emergency physician who wants to be there to take care of you.
Thousands of us are embracing technology or standing in for families that cannot be at the bedside. We accept this responsibility and all that comes with it. We are incredibly proud of what we do and grateful for the chance to do it.