I am a pulmonary and critical care physician working in New York City, one of the epicenters of this global pandemic. It’s an unprecedented and uncertain time, and I’m sharing my first-hand experience. I do not presume to have all of the answers, but I’m motivated to help stop the misinformation being shared. First things first, I urge everyone to visit the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization for the most up-to-date information on this disease.
As an intensivist, I am on the frontline combating this disease and in the highest risk category of contracting COVID-19, which broke loose in our hospital last week. We have not rested since then. On a daily basis, I am treating COVID-19 positive patients alongside nurses and respiratory therapists, performing high-risk procedures like intubations and trying to avoid the highest risk procedures like bronchoscopies, while caring for my patients with the utmost dignity. Yes, I have already lost some patients to the disease and know that this is only the beginning. I reflect upon the oath I took almost 10 years ago – inevitably, it now puts me in harms way. This disease has a higher mortality rate for people who are elderly, or with comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease. However this does not mean that young people in their 30s are not dying in New York City from COVID-19 as I write this. That being said, I am committed to share in the sacrifice we are all making. My spirits are up. I am staying safe by using personal protective equipment. I am dedicated to this fight against the pandemic, and I am mentally prepared for the daunting challenges to come.
The rapidly changing environment has transformed our lives and placed new financial, emotional and psychological burdens on the community, and I highly appreciate the outpouring of support for medical professionals. I recognize the courage and spirit of citizenship that this group has undertaken to keep this city, country and globe safe. The fear and anxiety this disease has caused is palpable daily among healthcare workers who have heeded the call. We can only treat the sick, but you can prevent more from becoming sick. So please, protect us by staying home and staying healthy.