Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. This is the coronavirus and the healthcare professional catch-22.
Nurses, doctors, EMS and many other first responders are braving these uncertain times by fighting the Coronavirus on the frontlines all day and all night. However, without a vaccine and with a shortage of personal protection equipment, PPE, these individuals are the most vulnerable.
For example, take Dr. Li Wenliang.
Dr. Li, an ophthalmologist, is the hero doctor who attempted to alert the world of what was happening, but, in the process, contracted the virus himself while working at Wuhan Central Hospital.
Here is the timeline of Dr. Li’s attempt to warn the world:
- Early November to December: Signs of the coronavirus started to appear.
- December 30: Dr. Li sends a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
- January 4: Dr. Li was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”.
- January 10: Dr. Li started coughing and the next day he had a fever. Two days later he was in hospital.
- January 30: He was officially diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- January 31: US President Donald Trump imposes a travel ban to and from China.
- February 7: Dr. Li passed away from the coronavirus at 2:58 am.
Dr. Li upheld his oath and did what a hero does. He continued working while attempting to get the word out to save more lives.
The coronavirus is now making its way around the United States. With test kits slowly starting to roll out what will we see next?
As more and more people enter hospitals and as patients are treated by nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals with or without proper PPE will the hospitals turn into a breeding ground for the virus?
This is the Healthcare Professional’s Catch-22.
As healthcare professionals come and go from their places of work they leave and enter the world outside of the hospitals, nursing homes, senior living centers and many other similar facilities. They will most likely come in contact with the virus whether they like it or not. They will most likely not have any symptoms right away either, but it’s there.
Now they re-enter their healthcare facility and they have brought the virus with them. Now someone who comes in without the virus may leave with it. Then, if they are lucky enough to get tested, they’re told they do not have it, but they may have it after the fact and now they go around to the outside world and start spreading it.
They may feel fine, but then they get sick and say “Oh no, I have been tested. I am good to go.” When in reality they are not good to go.
We must do everything we can to protect our healthcare professionals and healthcare professionals need to do everything they can to stay healthy. It’s all of our duties to do what we can, but if we do not have professionals manning our healthcare facilities and if they are infected, then we are in for a world of hurt.
Protect our healthcare professionals. Stay inside. Self-quarantine. Practice social distancing. Do what’s right because we are all in this together and we will get through this together as long as we are smart with the decisions we make in this tiny window we have before it explodes in our faces.