The Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) is upon us and the guys from EM Over Easy are facing it head on. In part 2; Andy, Tanner and Drew discuss what the front line has been like and answer some listener questions about how we are dealing with COVID-19 at work, at home and with our family and friends. Our hope is to discuss this in a way that brings our listeners to the front lines with us and for those that are already there, to know they are not alone.
The storm has hit the coasts, we are anxious and waiting for the storm to move inland. If you want to keep abreast of the global situation and numbers, we recommend the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Recourse Center.
Calm Before the Storm
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 storm has hit the coasts and New York City is the U.S. epicenter. The reports coming out of hospitals in the city are stunning and at time horrific. However, for a large part of the country, it is the opposite fore the time being. In Central Ohio, we have seen out volumes way down in both at the hospital. The main hospital that Andy and Drew work at has temporally closed two inpatient floors and has decreased ED coverage. Nobody expects this volume dip to last but keeping providers away from the hospital and healthy now may pay dividends in the long run. It also means that people are staying home that might have otherwise come to the hospital and there is no doubt that injury related visits are down right now too.
The flip side of this is that there is increasing anxiety about what may be coming…
In Case you Forgot, Social Distancing Matters
Not to beat a dead horse, but what we are doing now, the isolation we are self-imposing will make a huge difference and save lives. This NYT article has some great suggestions on how to social distance properly and this one has an interactive model on how social isolation can affect the pandemic. These two graphics sum it up:
How are you protecting your family?
We are all dealing with this is similar ways. Andy is getting new scrubs from the hospital each day while Tanner and Drew are still wearing their own but we all change into clean clothes before leaving the hospital and shower immediately once home. We all are practicing clean “doffing” techniques and do extensive hand/arm washing before heading out. Both Tanner and Drew are placing their scrubs in plastic bags away from everything else once home and wash those clothes on hot separately (this is reported to be effective for cleaning COVID exposed clothes).
At home, we are all practicing some type of social distancing from our family and friends. We sleep in different rooms from our spouses and try to minimize close contact with others. None of the EMOE crew has taken to self-isolation while home, at least not yet.
The scary part of this is the unknown. Each day we go to work, the clock starts on another 14-day exposure period and we just don’t know what amount of distancing and isolation is needed for providers.
What to we tell family and friends when the ask?
Essentially the same thing we say to our patients… If you are sick, with any symptoms, self-isolate until symptoms have completely resolved for 72 hours, this is based on CDC recommendations. We don’t now if its COVID-19 but best bet is to assume that it is. So far, there seems to be an increasing amount of GI symptoms presenting and very well may be due to the virus but most of these patients are not sick enough to trigger testing, so we just don’t know.
What are we doing to help our families?
Be as present as possible but recognize the need to take some distancing precautions. This is a trying time for everyone, not just us as providers. Make sure you are sensitive to what you need and what your family needs. One little suggestion for around the house is to keep it clean (should go without saying) and keep some flowers around, its helps to brighten the day a bit.
We also have been truly touched by our friends and family that have reached out to us, giving us good thoughts and the such. It is humbling being on the fronts lines at a time likes this and encouraging words are worth their weight in gold.
Entrance to one of our local ED’s (credit Tanner Gronowski)
Personal Protective Equipment
We have said it before and will be saying it until the war on COVID-19 is won, medical providers need to be protected! There are reports of providers in NYC wearing garbage bags because there are no gown and absolutely no N95 masks at smaller hospitals (we cannot verify these accounts but have no reason to not believe them). If you have not already done so, write congress and sign this petition to support us all having the proper protection to keep ourselves safe while caring for our patients. IT IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!
Finally, check this website out for #socialdistancing corporate logo memes if you need some levity.
COVID 19 Episode 2
UNTIL WE TALK AGAIN, WASH THOSE HANDS, COVER YOUR COUGH, KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE AND PLEASE REACH-OUT TO US ABOUT HOW YOU ARE DOING.