by Robert Frierson, M.D. & Steven Lippmann, M.D.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged causing a worldwide pandemic in 2019. Many people in Louisville and the rest of Kentucky were infected during 2020 by its illness, called COVID-19. The population was worried and that bothered the healthcare community, including doctors. Robert Frierson decided in 2020 to formally poll his local physician colleagues about their concerns and hear what they suggested doing about it.
Doctor’s feared exposure to the virus, transmitting COVID-19 to family members, and/or getting sick themselves; that emerged as one of the initial issues. There was disappointment by all healthcare personnel and the general public about insufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), even of facial masks or routine gowns. It seemed that we were not response-prepared for this type of viral contagion. Physicians were concerned about diminished ability to be in close clinical contact with patients nor with other medical personnel; families were blocked from visiting relatives, even during emergencies or terminal situations. Patients were even more upset by these separations, and these factors had a negative impact on hospital and clinic staff resilience and morale.
Rates of addiction and psychiatric presentations escalated along with affective illness and overdoses; many people with somatic conditions, fearful of COVID-19, also avoided medical contacts and were suffering from increased and untreated pathology. Societal apprehension concentrated on problems of quarantining with social distancing, along with concerns about employment, education, and unstable or inadequate life-style.
Questioning then focused on what to do about these issues. Doctors reported that talk-time with colleagues and extra consideration in dealing with healthcare personnel was beneficial. Maximizing social connectedness and advocacy in all spheres possible was helpful. They also focused more on enjoying support from the wider community at their “front-line” efforts and took gratification from providing effective healthcare. Also helpful was avoiding overly subscribing to COVID-19 news reporting. Caring for oneself was another benefit: assuring good rest, diet, exercise, balance with family time, and related matters. These responses lead to more satisfaction throughout the medical community and everyone, despite a continued pandemic. Hopefully, it facilitates effective administration of optimal health care for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.