As society takes the steps necessary to protect ourselves from this COVID-19 pandemic, our clinicians are on the frontlines. While our communities are doing the right thing with social distancing, our clinicians do not enjoy that choice and are putting themselves at risk. They do this because of their ultimate commitment to their patients and the call of their professions.
In a time of unprecedented uncertainty, it can be easy to be passive. Many of us are spending time watching the news or visiting websites that track reported COVID-19 cases to see the numbers rise—and understandably so. However, sometimes the true heroism and goodness of our team does not come through. I want to share with you a few brief stories about what clinicians across the country are doing to make a difference in the lives of their colleagues and the communities they serve.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is often the only thing standing between clinicians and possible infection. While clinicians rely on hospitals’ supplies for all PPE needs, the demand for this equipment has never been higher – leading to worldwide shortages at a critical time. But this has not stopped Envision clinicians from doing what they can to find what they need to keep saving lives.
From Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Director of Emergency Medicine Debra Lee, M.D., who went out and bought equipment and fashioned it together to create protective equipment to protect her clinicians, to Peter Lee, D.O., FACEP, in Jersey City, who brought his church community together to donate masks for his clinicians, the personal accounts I could share of clinicians going above and beyond to keep their colleagues safe are endless.
Picking up Shifts
Envision clinicians across the country are picking up shifts that have gone unfilled at the last second because a colleague fell ill. Just recently, I was informed of a hospitalist on our organization’s travel team who tested positive for COVID-19. Her first thought when she received the news was to ask when she could get back to work because she needed to help.
Small Acts of Kindness
One of the best stories I’ve heard came from one of our outpatient clinics in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. One of our physicians needed to be tested, so when he arrived at the clinic, its manager met him at his car wearing full protective equipment to administer a nasal swab. While that physician was waiting for the results, his car’s battery died. While still wearing her PPE, she went to her car, got her jumper cables, and gave that physician’s car a jump.
These are the kinds of stories that give me hope. These stories show us what we’ve already known—that our physicians, nurses, advanced practice providers, emergency response teams, and all healthcare workers are Healthcare Heroes. We are going to look back at how we served our communities and be proud of what we did.
Most of all, these stories assure me that we will get through this as a country. Yes, the healthcare system is being tested right now, but we’re going to be better for having solved the challenges presented by this pandemic. I know that we will look back one day and be proud to know that our organization, and so many others across the country, heeded the call to maintain the healthcare safety net during such a turbulent and uncertain time.