COVID Crisis Post 7: A Call To Arms.
First day off in a week, and I STILL saw the inside of the hospital. I guess it's not a bad thing to get used to since I may be spending many of my foreseeable hours there soon enough.
I cringe at comparing anything to war as I have friends who themselves or whose families were directly involved in war, and I am unlikely to ever understand the full depth of trauma that can entail.
But this pandemic may be the closest I will ever come. It is the first time in my life I have experienced this degree of fear and concern for loss of human life on so many fronts, where a great deal of the world is at risk.
To all of us who are healthcare providers, this is our call to arms.
We are healers first and foremost. The typical actors of war such as violence, human rights violators, are bit roles, if they are even cast, in this story. And we are doing our best to heal this world, to win this war through love, compassion, tears, hardwork, and sacrifice.
NY has been testing the most of any state in the country, and we now have a confirmed 15000+ cases of COVID-19 in our state with the majority coming from the five boroughs of NYC. Most are not super sick. But many are. We need more ICU level beds. We need more vents. We need more PPE. We need more resources.
Governor Cuomo stated today that the Javits Center, a 1.8 million sq ft convention center in NYC, is on the short list to become one of FEMAs field hospitals in NY, with the goal of it being converted to a 1000 bed hospital to treat COVID-19+ patients.
If this happens and the need arises and am able to based on my job obligations, I will gladly volunteer to work there. Put me where my skills could be best put to use, where I could provide the greatest benefit. Please. This is what I desperately want.
Even now, there is still a lot of confusion when looking at the raw numbers that this is all much ado about nothing and being blown way of proportion. How can China be getting back to normalcy, but Italy is still a complete shit-show?
This is a good article summarizing the unprecedented measures China took to contain the outbreak. These are measures that could only be instituted in a country at this level of speed and efficiency where individual citizens do not remotely have the same level of freedom we do: https://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-coronavirus-quaranti…
So Italy is a much better comparison to us than China ever will be. Our freedom is amazing, but there is unfortunately a cost that comes along with that.
Because we did not, could not, institute anything remotely like this, we are nearing the point of where we may need to choose who lives or dies due to lack of resources. Washington State has already started making plans for a statewide triaging system that would essentially decide who got a vent, and who would just receive comfort care till they die. Seattle Children's is taking patients 21 and less to decompress other hospitals to allow for more available beds for COVID-19 patients:
If this ever comes to pass, which I pray it doesn't, the sickest, the ones least likely to recover, are not going to get the vents. It is going to be those who are most likely to recover, and this generally is the rule in times of war. And priorities will likely be given to healthcare providers since they can help more sick once they recover.
I never thought this could happen here. Just shows the naiveté of so many of us.
The entire hospital system is getting MASSIVELY overburdened. The stress and fear is palpable. I've seen my ICU colleagues break down in tears due to stress.
This isn't just about COVID-19.
This is about a dearth of intensive care level beds with enough vents and qualified people and PPE to oversee these patients safely.
It's about a dearth of ICU beds for people who need them that ARE NOT infected with the virus. People who suffer from the multiple maladies being a living creature on this planet entails.
It's about how my dad, in the current state of affairs, may not have been given the 10 extra months of life he received due to how sick he was and may have been left to die in comfort care. Though he at least would've been able to have his family around him.
Unless he contracted COVID-19 and then he would've been left to die on his own. Like so many are at this moment.
My close friend and medschool classmate Sarah Carlson penned a great piece about "patient distancing" - it's real and heartbreaking:
So please, keep doing your part to end this. This is something you will very likely be telling stories about to your children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren. This is a once in a century event. We are living in the middle of history.
As for us healthcare providers, we are going to keep fighting the good fight. Can we get this under control sooner rather than later? These next couple of weeks are going to be crucial to answering that question.
"For you see, the face of destiny or luck or god that gives us war also gives us other kinds of pain:
the loss of health and youth;
the loss of loved ones or of love;
the fear that we will end our days alone.
Some people suffer in peace the way others suffer in war.
The special gift of that suffering, I have learned, is how to be strong while we are weak, how to be brave when we are afraid, how to be wise in the midst of confusion, and how to let go of that which we can no longer hold.
In this way, anger can teach us forgiveness, hate can teach us love, and war can teach us peace." - Le Le Hayslip
Stay strong. Stay brave. Be wise.
And as always, stay safe, my peeps.