March 2020 President’s Message

March 2020 President’s Message

Physicians benefit most by following latest recommendations

by Patricia Wyatt-Harris, MD —

Health care professionals, including many MSSC members, are on the front lines combating COVID-19. They are scrambling to handle a surge of patients – and struggling to manage the many more who want to be tested.

These professionals may be putting themselves at risk. Nationwide, dozens of health care workers have fallen ill from the virus, and dozens more have been quarantined after exposure.

My personal story is minor in comparison, but it illustrates the wide sweep of this public health crisis.

My husband is a teacher, so we usually travel over spring break. We planned a ski trip with friends several months ago. We decided to drive to Avon, Colorado, and ski at Beaver Creek.

We arrived the afternoon of March 14 and went to rent our skis. The young man at the ski store had a stricken look on his face. “They just closed the mountain,” he said.

Closed the mountain? We couldn’t believe it.

We then went to the grocery store to pick up a few supplies. We debated about what to do, but Jim and I decided to come right home on the 15th so we could shelter at home.

We then found out that Eagle County in Colorado is a high-risk county. The recommendation is to use social distancing for 14 days. Our only potential exposure was at the grocery store, but it was packed with people. I am taking this very seriously.

We were grateful that we had made the decision to drive rather than fly to our destination. The drive home was interesting, because every stop was crowded with people doing the same thing.

It seems that the COVID-19 story changes day to day, minute to minute. The most difficult part of dealing with this situation is the unknown.

Hopefully more testing will become available, so we will know exactly who has the virus. I also hope social distancing will “flatten the curve” so our medical supplies and facilities will be able to handle the cases.

The MSSC has a very informative fact sheet on its website, so I’m not going to include those things in this column. In the “Resources for Physicians” section of that fact sheet, there is a link to World Health Organization information on the coronavirus. I found that website to be very helpful, with up-to-date statistics and recommendations.

We are all struggling to cope with this situation. The news media reports with such a sense of urgency that it is difficult not to panic.

I’m so grateful for all the MSSC members and their staffs who are on the front lines of response to this pandemic. We need to protect our patients and ourselves by continuing to follow the most current recommendations.