Heidi Standteiner: A doctor’s plea for sacrifice
“I’m so sick of COVID.”
I hear this over and over, and believe me, I am too. I am a mother of two children who are trying to ski race, play soccer, socialize, and learn remotely. I am also a physician at our local hospital taking care of COVID-19 patients and watching this pandemic wreak havoc on many lives.
I will start by saying, hang in there! A vaccine is here, and hopefully, months from now, we will see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Until then. .. what you do matters.
I’m writing this because unless you work in healthcare or have experienced it first hand, it is hard to grasp what this virus is doing. It is hard to picture what’s happening inside our overflowing hospitals that have been on lockdown for eight months. Even I start to forget when I don’t work for a few days; I let my guard down, I bend the rules, I relax, only to be brutally reminded of the devastation caused by COVID-19 the minute I start my next shift.
I hope the following scenario paints a picture of what is happening at the bedside and why our actions matter. Multiply it times a million. Or more.
A family of four gathers for dinner with grandma, grandpa and a couple “close friends.” A few days later, two guests become mildly ill with COVID-19. They recover and everyone from the party is fine, no big deal. Except the infected guests unknowingly infect others, who further pass it on to others, until eventually someone more vulnerable becomes sick with COVID-19. This symptomatic person shows up in his local Emergency Department. Because there are no available ICU beds at that facility or any other in a 200 mile radius, he is treated and “hospitalized’ in the very busy ER for 2 days until an ICU bed becomes available. Two weeks later, despite a team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, phlebotomists, radiology techs, lab techs and many others working tirelessly around the clock, and despite giving their very best effort, praying for his recovery, and risking their own health, the patient gets worse. He dies alone on a ventilator in the ICU with his devastated family watching on an iPad and a devastated hospital crew at his bedside.
This sounds dramatic because it is dramatic.
Please, I beg you, wear your mask, avoid crowds, don’t travel, follow guidelines, wave to your friends from a distance, enjoy Christmas with only your household. Please don’t have dinner with “close friends” or throw a “small” party for your kid’s birthday. Relish this opportunity to bond with your children, your spouse, your loved ones, and be grateful.
We got this.
SACRIFICE for the greater good.
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