This week, the number of COVID inpatients will eclipse our previous peak. Some say the peak will be narrow, but I’m not convinced. I think we should prepare for a busy stretch.
Information is evolving quickly, so I wanted to use today’s PD Note to share some thoughts:
- Acknowledge the effort: Everyone is working above and beyond- respiratory therapists, nurses, APPs, hospitalists, faculty, and trainees. Everyone. We’re grateful to the many people taking extra shifts and moving their assignments to go where they’re needed. We’re immensely thankful for the extra support provided by the hospital and GME office.
- Expect transparency: We’ll tell you what we know as soon as we know it- from policy changes to test availability to redeployment plans. If we haven’t covered something in our town hall meetings or emails, please ask. We’ll do our best to answer any and all questions.
- Stay informed: Read the literature. Follow the hospital dashboard and check out clinical resources available to you. Review the latest numbers locally, statewide, and nationally, here, here, here, and here.
- Share your ideas: I appreciate the many emails and messages you send, suggesting ways to optimize patient care and workplace safety. Your frontline experience and wisdom influence policies and procedures. All ideas are welcome.
- Get boosted: Most hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and most of the rest are un-boosted. Immunity wains after two shots, increasing the risk of breakthrough cases. If you haven’t gotten your booster yet, please get it ASAP.
- Stay safe: As contagious as omicron is, we can minimize the risk of infection by following simple principles: wear an N95 (or elastomeric mask) and face shield for all patient encounters. Wear an N95 at all times in the hospital and clinic, including the workrooms, and whenever you enter indoor public spaces. Until the numbers come down, avoid indoor public dining. Socialize outdoors, and if you’re indoors, wear an N95 and open the windows. When eating in the hospital, keep your distance from others and minimize time spent with your N95 off. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve had minimal spread between housestaff. Let’s keep it that way.
- Wellness: Now, more than ever, take care of yourselves. Eat, sleep, exercise, and socialize. If you develop signs of infection, call the Chiefs immediately. If you’re feeling the stress, you’re not alone. Tell us and we’ll steer you to helpful resources.
- Be patient with one another: These are stressful times and many of us, including yours truly, need to work hard to prevent frustration from affecting how we speak. Stress can be hard to see, and we may not always realize how it’s affecting us. Give yourselves and everyone around you the benefit of the doubt. Assume crabbiness is a sign of stress. Add extra kindness to everything you say and do.
- Advocate: I’m sublimating my frustrations by advocating for commonsense public health measures, sharing my views on TV and radio and in the newspaper. Physicians have enormous credibility and influence. Share your expertise with the wider world and help bring this pandemic under control.
- Expect the unexpected: No one knows what the next few weeks will bring. We will do our best to keep clinics and inpatient firms fully staffed with residents while meeting the rising needs of the ICU. We will continue all educational activities, albeit remotely for now. We will undoubtedly be called to stretch, but a lot depends on factors beyond our control, like the trajectory of the omicron surge, the emergence of new mutants, other circulating winter viruses, and changes in public policy and behaviors. Today’s plans may change tomorrow, and we appreciate your patience.
The next few weeks will challenge our residency yet again, but I know we’ll meet the call. Our success depends on a complete commitment to communication, safety, wellness, and transparency. Let’s take care of one another and let’s resolve to thrive, despite the new set of obstacles placed in our way.
Have a good Sunday, everyone. Take care of yourselves,
For further reading:
- With omicron, you need a mask that means business
- Hospitals Are in Serious Trouble
- Here’s When We Expect Omicron to Peak
- Coronavirus by the numbers: How bad is COVID-19 in Connecticut? Who is hospitalized? How much are vaccines helping?
- The C.D.C. Is Hoping You’ll Figure Covid Out on Your Own
- How Soon Will COVID Be “Normal”?