COVID-19 is very real. Take it from a doctor
I have practiced internal medicine in the Poconos for nearly 34 years.
I also have been a medical officer for the National Disaster Medical System, which is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, since 2016. I thought I had seen it all until COVID-19 came to our world.
Now, as the number of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals is quickly approaching triple that of the spring, I’d like everyone to be aware of the seriousness of this virus.
My experience with COVID-19 started on March 9 as a member of the National Disaster Medical System.
I was deployed to California, where the cruise ship Grand Princess docked for two weeks in Oakland. We were there to help COVID-19 patients disembark and then relocate them for quarantine. Initially, we had been told there were just 21 patients. The reality was there were hundreds. I spent two weeks in full isolation gear, and it became obvious our world had changed. I had never seen anything like this.
By the time I arrived home, the virus was in full effect here.
Our critical care team was working around the clock, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, diligently trying to save the lives of our COVID-19 patients.
Emotionally, it was very difficult for our team members as they also faced the risks of exposure and were worried about spreading the virus to their families at home. I, especially, give so much credit to the nurses. They were there every day with the patients, spending hours in the room, in full personal protective equipment.
They were holding cellphones to the ears of patients who weren’t going to make it, to give them a chance to hear their loved ones say goodbye.
I never want to go back to that.
We were all very glad to see it start to calm down in the summer, and that we were flattening the curve as a unified community.
Unfortunately, people around our nation became a little too comfortable, believing the virus was going away or the elderly or those with a preexisting condition were the only ones vulnerable.
Please know we are seeing perfectly healthy people of all ages with serious cases of the virus, even young people on ventilators.
For those who recover, it’s not an easy road. Some people aren’t back to normal for weeks, even months, afterward or have long-term side effects.
The current surge is very frightening to medical workers. The threat is very real, and we can’t risk our hospitals being overrun with COVID patients.
We are seeing the spread in the community a lot more in the last two weeks than previously, and every COVID-19 patient takes a bed away from another patient who needs care. The cases are rising because of gatherings and the lack of ventilation indoors now that it’s cold outside.
The first thing I noticed about this virus when I was in California was how fast it spreads. I know everyone wants to get together with friends and family for the holidays, but it’s not worth the risk to yourself or them.
You have the power to help protect yourself and others: Stay home when possible. If you must go out, wear a face mask. Stay socially distant. Wash your hands and frequently use hand sanitizer. If you do all of that, you have a good, fighting chance of not contracting COVID-19.
Some people don’t believe it’s a real threat, and maybe that is because they don’t know anyone who has been affected. But a lot of people are affected, and unless you live it, you may not understand the effects it has.
We’re prepared to provide the highest quality care for all of our patients while continuing to manage the ongoing pandemic.
We’ll do our part. But we need your help. We implore you to do your part and fight the fatigue. You can do this. We can do this together.
Dr. Jonathan Goldner is the associate chief medical officer at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono.