Medical Resident, Lenox Hill Hospital, NY
COVID hit New York during the end of the second year of my residency in internal medicine. I was first called on to treat COVID patients after several of my co-residents were exposed to a COVID positive patient and were sent into quarantine. I was scared and anxious at first, COVID was so new and so unknown. As the days went by and more cases flooded into our hospital, it quickly became apparent that COVID was becoming all-encompassing. There wasn’t really time to be scared. While we were fighting to keep patients alive, we were trying to stay safe and protected. Every second felt like an eternity when a patient’s oxygen levels were critically falling and we had to carefully put on each piece of PPE before entering their room. All the while, we were the channel through which families could reach their sick loved ones, since visitors were no longer allowed in the hospital. To me, the worst part was having to convey distressing information to family members over the phone while their loved ones were sick and alone. That’s just not how it’s been; it’s not how it’s supposed to be. The days and nights blended together until, eventually, the COVID numbers started to go down. Most of our COVID floors were sanitized and became non-COVID floors and things returned to a new normal for a brief time. When I was recently called to work in our COVID ICU at the start of the second wave, I was no longer scared for myself but scared to see what my patients would undoubtedly endure. It’s not something I wanted to get used to. I hope that we’ve learned from the past several months and I pray that we all continue to take this virus seriously.
It has been hard to catch my breath and really take in the full extent of what I am a part of, working in a hospital at the epicenter of a global pandemic. It is scary and difficult but we have to push through, have faith in ourselves and the system, and keep treating our patients. What keeps me going is the amazing support of the hospital staff. Between the doctors, nurses, medical assistants, therapists, and cleaning staff, there is a strong sense of togetherness and camaraderie. I am also so grateful for the love and support I have been receiving from my family, friends, and community.