The Feelings of Being a Clinician During COVID-19
By Christian Altman, MD
I remember first hearing about a novel coronavirus circulating in China back in December. As a mid-career anesthesiologist who also has a Master of Public Health degree, a new respiratory illness on the horizon piqued my interest. Following the developments peripherally from thousands of miles away, this coronavirus—now dubbed COVID-19–felt somewhat theoretical during those first couple of months. Now, those early days seem so far away.
I live and work in Chicagoland, a new emerging “hotspot” for COVID-19 cases. When the initial diagnoses were made in Washington state—and then in our own Chicago north suburbs—I, like most Americans, began paying much closer attention. At first, work at our office-based surgery sites continued unchanged as life in Chicago and its suburbs moved forward at its usual pace. However, as the virus spread, normal routines began to morph into something a little less normal. We started screening our patients for travel from countries with COVID-19 outbreaks. Hand sanitizer use increased exponentially among healthcare providers and laypeople alike. I started wearing an earloop face mask at work—and at the grocery store.
At Mobile Anesthesiologists we deliver anesthetics for office-based procedures. Our patients are typically on the healthier side, safe to be sedated in an outpatient location not attached to a hospital. As efforts have increased to preserve personal protective equipment for the COVID-19 fight, we have transitioned to sedating mostly patients requiring immediate outpatient procedures. While our patient population has temporarily shifted toward those with additional comorbidities, we remain vigilant about proceeding safely with each patient. At the same time we have further increased screening procedures and are donning extra protective equipment to protect our patients, our staff, our families, and ourselves.
When the global pandemic subsides, Mobile will be here to take care of your outpatient sedation needs again. Our team is doing everything it can to stay healthy, and we look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, continue following the social distancing and “stay at home” guidelines from our public health professionals. Heeding those recommendations will give us as a society the best chance to beat COVID-19 and return to a more normal life as soon as possible.