Throughout this pandemic we are having to adjust to change on a daily, if not hourly timeframe. Initially we were told masks weren’t necessary, but information has changed. Now the CDC is recommending we all wear masks in public to reduce transmission of COVID19 virus through droplets in the air. Since many people seem to have minimal to no symptoms early on, they are unaware that they may be transmitting the virus and exposing those by talking, singing, etc. I read a commentary by a retired academic ENT surgeon and I’m going to link to her post for a great summary of why you should wear a mask now–a cloth mask. But remember, social distancing and hand washing is still imperative and the mask does NOT change those recommendations. Stay home and stay safe, and if you venture out, stay masked.
Today I moved a step closer to protecting my patients and myself, I was officially fitted for an N95 mask and a CAPR (an advanced powered air purifying respirator for protection against aerosolised and airborne particulates). I left the fitting with one N95 mask with my name on it in a brown lunch bag. I am grateful to have it and grateful that the two hospitals at which I maintain privileges are at last making sure we’ve all been fit. Until today, none of the five ENT docs in my group had been fit at these facilities. That concerned us because we have recently discovered the high rate of COVID19 infections in ENT doctors in China, Italy and Iran. Now we at least each have one mask to get us through 5 encounters (assuming it doesn’t become contaminated). The hospitals do have supplies now, but we’re told they do not have a lot. Reprocessing of masks is also ongoing to try to “recycle” and reuse. I just read that people that will be wearing these masks should NOT wear makeup and lipstick to work as that is the number one reason they cannot be reprocessed. Spread the word to your nursing and physician friends please.
I am praying for the heroic doctors and nurses in New York and around the world who are working untold hours in dangerous situations and watching so many suffer and die. I hope and pray that we will not see this repeated across the country and I again commend your for staying home and beseech you to convince your friends and family to stay home. This virus takes young people too, and sometimes quickly.
On a personal note, one of my relatives is suffering alone in a hospital, on hospice now from what might be COVID19. Even if it isn’t the infectious agent in her pneumonia, it is the cause of her suffering without family. There are visitor restrictions in most hospitals now, and people suffer alone. When we are on the other side of this pandemic, I hope we can once again hug. I miss hugging and I’d like to hug my aunt and tell her I love her and hold her hand…remember that if nothing else moves you to stay home. Dying alone is wrong and you can help prevent that from happening.
Medical and ethics professionals across the world are having to make decisions about allocating care and resources during the COVID19 pandemic. Many health systems in the US are crafting policies, even as I write, about whether or not to “code” or resuscitate COVID 19 patients. This is as scary to us physicians as it is to you patients. What can you do about it? Stay home. You are less likely to contract the infection if you practice social distancing and stay home. If you stay home, we are less likely to run out of personal protective equipment, less likely to become infected, and hence less likely to have to make decisions or policies that limit our ability to provide care for everyone. For more information on this topic, read this article from the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/25/coronavirus-patients-do-not-resucitate/?utm_campaign=9bcfc89836-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_25_12_50&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Global%20Health%20NOW%20Main%20List
I wrote this post on Facebook on a whim tonight. It isn’t professionally written, but it is from the heart and real and true. It is the accidental start of me blogging about COVID19. I’ve decided to post articles, information and advice here so my friends and family can find information easily. Please always defer to the advice of your personal physician, but maybe you’ll find some useful information here.
Guys, this was a hard day. I like being a doctor, I enjoy seeing patients and helping people. I really like to talk to my patients, examine them, get to know them and hope I can make a difference in their lives. Today I did telemedicine instead. I think I helped, but it is so hard to have skills and to not be able to use them. To talk to a screen and not touch them. To know people need help but it isn’t safe for them to leave their homes. To participate in a meeting with colleagues and hear that the impending shortages of supplies means that people will likely die here in my city in the coming weeks that could have been saved if we had adequate supplies. Even though I miss seeing you in my office, PLEASE stay home so you and your friends and loved ones and complete strangers won’t be the ones we can’t resuscitate or intubate or ventilate in the coming weeks. This just sucks. And no, we don’t need to fill the churches with smiling faces on Easter, because that will lead to more death and destruction and grief and that is not beautiful.
Tears roll down my cheeks
Fear for loved ones and strangers
Unmasked faces wait
In January we were joined for a few days by Justus Kakuru. Justus, who is the nephew of one of our local partners in Kyotera, is a medical student in his last year before residency.
During his time with us Justus served as a translator and scribe. His knowledge of local dialects, Ugandan culture, and medical terminology proved an invaluable asset to the GMAST team.
Justus took full advantage of his opportunity to observe cleft operations and learn from our doctors. Teaching and education are integral to our mission.