I am an anesthesiologist who practices in Omaha, Nebraska at a large university. Our institution is preparing around the clock to care for our community in the midst of the COVID-19 virus. We are all coming together – doctors, scientists, nurses, technicians, administrators, therapists, and staff to develop plans. Leaders are not sleeping; they are working. We are all preparing. Reading. Staying up to date. Trying to learn from our colleagues around the world. Busy is an understatement. We are focusing on the current work: Write protocols. Order supplies. Build new patient areas. Make new teams. Formulate new ways to communicate. Diagnose. Triage. Test. Care. Treat. Save.
Minute to minute, we are on our phones. Emails are coming at an alarming pace. Meetings are happening over Zoom. All while we are still caring for people who are in car accidents. Having babies. Coming in with heart failure. Diabetes crisis. Having heart attacks. Needing chemo. Requiring cancer surgery.
We are still here.
You may be seeing doctors and nurses on social media who are begging you, pleading with you, to stay home. We are asking a lot of you, we know. We are asking you to follow our public health officials’ orders, to work from home. To school your kids at home. To not eat out. To Facetime your elderly friends and family members. To cancel parties and weddings and anniversary trips.
We know. It is hard.
You may see us posting we need masks. Begging for tests. Appearing urgent, and afraid. There is a reason we, the health care experts, are pleading with you and with others to do your part.
It is because our singular focus is YOU. It is to KNOW we are doing the BEST for YOU. Many of us are being asked to do the unknown, to step into new roles, to do new things we have not done before to save lives. And we will, no doubt. But we want to prepare, to know we have what we need to save you, and to protect ourselves. Because there are only so many of us, and we need to be able to show up, as healthy and as clear as possible, when called.
We are doctors. We are used to reading, preparing, studying, and talking with experts before we do anything new or treat you in the best way. But we are currently in a race against time, so to speak, and in the unknown. We, as doctors and nurses and staff, are listening to experts. When we are not working at the hospital, we are staying home. We are doing all the same things we are asking of you.
People you know will be sick. People you know will likely die. We will be there. Doing our best.
You are our life’s work. You are what matter the most to us.
Please, do your part and stay home. Support one another.
And support us.
We are doing all we can, for you. And we will get through this, but only together. We need your patience, your support, your kindness, and your understanding.
This doctor thanks you for doing your part.
Sasha K. Shillcutt is an anesthesiologist who blogs at Brave Enough.
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