I’m a Doctor Working in an ICU

Op-Ed: The pandemic, Hurricane Ian and me — a doctor whose friends say I have PTSD

From my first days as an attending physician to the present, I have been fortunate enough to have a steady, fulfilling, rewarding career that I am passionate about. However, the events of the past few months have made me feel like my life is on hold, waiting for the opportunity to resume — but I’m not alone. Some of my best friends have been affected by COVID-19, and many have left or are leaving the workforce. It’s as if we’ve collectively reached rock bottom in the medical profession, as well as the country.

We are, and will continue to be, all affected by this pandemic. We all have different stories and perspectives, but it’s an important time to speak up and say something.

From my current vantage point, I am a doctor working in an intensive care unit in an underserved, low-income hospital.

The current health crisis we’re all dealing with is unprecedented, and we’ve all been affected by it in different ways. It’s heartbreaking to me that the nation has turned its back on people who are most in need, and that they are not receiving the financial assistance they need. During the first two months of this outbreak, the pandemic forced me to do the following:

Stay at home because I had to be there.

Take my patients off the ventilator because I was the only attending physician on the unit that could do this.

Take more sick patients off of the ventilator because I was the only attending physician on the unit that could do this.

Keep taking every sick patient off the ventilator because there is no choice because I was the only attending physician on the unit that could do this.

I am not alone.

While I am able to see patients now because I have to be at the hospital, I do not always have the ability to see all patients on the unit, as well as all the patients who come in to the emergency department because we are a busy hospital. I have to prioritize because I don’t know which patient will need my care and which patients need my attention.

I have also had to take multiple rounds on calls, as well as take care of the families, while trying to maintain my critical skills as a doctor.

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