March 24, 2020

Senior Citizen

Reality is setting in as we brace for the surge that we know is coming, there is no way to sugar coat this. New York is now the epicenter, move over Seattle. After much thought and a tinge of regret, I asked not to be sent to the Acute Respiratory Clinics because of my risk since I am a “senior citizen” with mild asthma. I wanted to go and be in the thick of it, but my younger colleagues would not hear of it. I will admit relief after I made the decision. Not just for me, but for Jamie. I did feel the fear, and still hold it close.

I would have worked there today. So instead, I did my InBox, attempted my first Telemedicine visit, counseled other providers and staff. I organized a COVID results on call team to help with dispensing results and arranging follow up, which will be needed. I have become one of the recognized physicians in my organziation that can speak out about physician well being. Something needed to be said today, I said it, and it was heard. Fear and anxiety are revving up in everyone, increasing stress levels. Education can help, and giving people time to ask questions is key. I helped arrange a time for that. I see one of my new evolving roles as helping with sustainability and looking at the big picture to fill in the details. We will all need to be there for the long haul. And it is going to be a long haul. The news out of New York was not good today.

And other news was more troubling. Cases are increasing rapidly, some states more prepared, but so many are not. Testing in some areas is now being limited to health care workers or really sick hospitalized patients. And, sadly, in some areas, there is still skepticism and blame, with little help to be expected from the federal government. But there is also fear. Some people live with the cognitive dissonance of their media. People are trying unproven and unsafe remedies and being injured or killed as a result. People are going to “Coronavirus Parties” and being infected. Many will suffer due to that. People are saying that it doesn’t matter that possibly a million people could die, because they are old.

For the young, presumably healthy person making that choice, this is what they don’t seem to understand: those actions risks the lives of health care workers every day. Those heroes are the ones who will suffer. Without them, we as a nation will suffer more.

Wash your hands and stay home.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/a-new-message-on-coronavirus-in-hard-hit-areas-dont-get-tested/

https://onbeing.org/poetry/the-peace-of-wild-things/