Emergency Medicine Physician, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Main Line Health, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
“The pandemic is a different reality for sure. The saddest thing is how sick the patients are. They come into the emergency room, one after another after another. They can’t breathe. They are drowning in their own fluids. This virus is so virulent. It aggressively attacks the lungs and causes respiratory distress. It’s scary how some patients are overcome with a hunger for air. … The first woman I intubated was very sick. I helped her call her husband; I wasn’t sure she was going to survive. It could have been her last chance to say goodbye, I love you. … Overall, we are seeing fewer patients in the ER because people aren’t coming in with the ordinary scrapes and bruises that weekend warriors experience. There are fewer fender benders too. … As a healthcare practitioner, you have to be on your game. The mental stress is definitely trying. Every day—or even twice a day—a new protocol comes out about how we should treat patients with the coronavirus. The procedures keep changing. What’s the appropriate PPE? Are we intubating too early? Are we trying to avoid intubation? We are learning on the fly how to attack this virus. I’ve been reading research nonstop to stay one step ahead. … In March, my colleagues and I in the emergency room were doing the intubations. As ER docs, we take pride in our expertise in protecting airways on a regular basis. Then we realized how important it was to keep our frontline people safe, so we created a COVID-19 intubation team with anesthetists and nurse anesthetists who put on Power Air Purifying suits to do so. … Like many spouses of frontline providers, my wife is scared I’m going to get sick—or worse. I contemplated moving to my parents’ place in Ambler while they are wintering in Florida. I’m afraid that I might infect my wife and daughters, but I’ve been very careful. I take my shoes off in the garage, then strip down. I shower immediately. I social distance at dinner, around the house. It’s sad not to hug and kiss my kids. I hope I’ve developed some degree of immunity. If I were to get sick, I’d find alternate housing. For now, I’m trying to be as ‘normal’ as possible—during an abnormal time.”
As told to Janice Fisher
April 11, 2020
Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.