A Doctor’s Chaos That Is COVID

Some of you may know this, but my day job is as a hospitalist and residency faculty. As I prepare for another day at the hospital I am reflecting on so much and I want to share these thoughts with you. Most of you are only as up to date as the news media shows. The reality is much different. I am immersed in COVID right now and think it is important you hear my concerns.

The Reality Of COVID

I am quite certain I will get coronavirus (COVID-19) soon. It’s just a matter of time. My job is such that it is inevitable. I am not overly scared of getting the virus. If I’m going to get it, I actually hope I can get it sooner than later to get over it so I am able to have immunity and care for those who will present in a few weeks when resources are more limited and all hands are on deck.

While I think if I get it I’ll be fine, I also haven’t seen my colleagues on ventilators in the ICU yet. I’ve had moments where I wonder, “could that be me?” I’m young and healthy, so hopefully not. If anything, I feel I should be the one in the hospital caring for these patients, not my older colleagues or those with poorer health. I feel guilty and conflicted about this as I don’t want this decision to care for others to be the one that takes me from my family. There are 30 year old physicians who have died from COVID.

Social Distancing to #flattenthecurve

I am happy to see the level of importance being placed on canceling large gatherings. Social distancing and good hygiene are the other things we can do ourselves to control the spread. Read more about why social distancing works here.

Almost all of us will get the virus.

Experts are estimating that 60-80% of the population will get this virus. Check out these interviews with experts.

Based on previous data, 85% of us will do fine at home. It’s the 15% that might be hospitalized that we are trying to protect. We don’t want all 15% to get it now as the health care system is not equipped for that. Our goal is to #flattenthevurve and if you haven’t already read about it, please do.

What Am I Scared Of?

If we don’t flatten the curve and the time comes where there aren’t enough beds, resources, ventilators, and support. I am lucky that our facility is equipping us with the PPE (personal protective equipment) we need, but there is a limited supply. Many physicians have posted in groups that they aren’t given the proper protection. The more sick patients, the more PPE we’ll need. Here is a great interview from an ED physician I know to explain the concerns.

I am also scared of is the chaos and scarcity that is developing. Raids on paper supplies and food. People snapping and irritable with employees who are doing the best they can to stock the shelves. Remember, they are exposing themselves to hundreds of possibly infected people to fill those shelves.

“But there are no positives in my community”

The data you are seeing is not the reality. Testing is behind. I’ve sent tests a week ago that are still not resulted. No result means no reporting. This is delaying the public’s knowledge of the prevalence by days to weeks. I am quite certain COVID-19 is in every community by this point. But providers across the country as indicating they have many diagnosed patients in their hospitals.

You think your community is OK because there are only a handful of cases in your state. Please heed the advice of those on the front-lines and believe us when we say this is real, it’s effecting thousands already and it’s probably already in your neighborhood.

What Can You Do?

  • Don’t go to the store unless you absolutely need to. Going to a store with hundreds of others is NOT social distancing and is defeating the purpose of closing schools and events. Do you really need to make that Target run? Do store runs early in the morning or late at night when no one else is out and only go out if needed.
  • Don’t travel unless it’s an emergency. Yes, there are still flights, but it is so people can get places they need to be for an emergency, not for personal leisure.
  • Please go outside and get fresh air. Walks are OK. But if you go out for walks, do it with your family or those you’ve been around frequently.
  • Keep saying this over and over again – please stay home. No play dates. No coffee dates.
  • Stay in your bubble and do what you can to prevent the spread.

Think About The Kids

The level of anxiety is rising. Our children are especially affected because they can hear us talking, see our every move and feel our anxiety. Do what you can to talk about this feeling that they might not be able to put words to. Help them feel reassured all will be OK.

  • Consider doing mindfulness and meditation exercises.
  • Limit constant conversations about coronavirus.
  • Find support from others through online community. Make zoom calls with friends.
  • Find time to bond and nurture your relationships amidst the chaos and stress.
  • Think about those around you in every decision you make. Your decision could have an impact on thousands of your neighbors.

The Bottom Line

This is getting very real and the ONLY chance we have at slowing the spread is by doing our part for the greater good. Yes, if you get it YOU’LL probably be fine. But this isn’t about you anymore, it’s about our community. Please do your part. Stay safe and stay home. We are all counting on you.

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