I was going to start off with the traditional “Happy New Year” but that conveys the sort of optimism that I am lacking right now.
Instead of feeling optimistic, I am actively trying to reign in the petrification that I am sensing about the coming months.
The post-Thanksgiving Covid surge is kicking our collective asses. You haven’t felt it? Fabulous…good for you! But please know that pretty much everyone in the medical field feels like they’ve been kicked in the teeth by a damn elephant. The shit show has stepped it up a notch and now features a three-ring circus and pyrotechnics.
I don’t have all day, so here are the highlights:
- The hospitals are all full. The vast majority of critically ill Covid patients continue to be unvaccinated. They are literally sucking our space, our staff, our resources and our souls dry. We are now canceling non-emergent surgeries to try to preserve what little time, space and staff we have left.
- Tons of healthcare workers are out with Covid. This means that in addition to limited space and resources, there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, lab techs, cooks and environmental workers to keep the hospitals running.
- Because of #1 and #2 above, we are unable to meet the healthcare needs of our community/state/region. So if you have a heart attack, catch pneumonia, have a stroke, if your appendix ruptures, if your gallbladder acts up, if your kid has an asthma attack or a bout of croup, if you fall and break your ankle, if you feel a lump in your breast….you’re going to have to pray that you can find an ER with room, a hospital with beds, a surgical team with the time, an urgent care that isn’t packed or a PCP who can fit you in…or you’re just going to have to wait…or get shipped out of state…or die.
- If you think that the above sounds very dire…you are correct.
I am grateful that my entire family is now fully vaccinated, from my 97 year-old grandpa to my 5 year-old daughter. For the first time in the pandemic, I am not really afraid of getting sick from Covid. What I fear the most is:
- Transmitting Covid to someone who doesn’t have a strong immune system (like pretty much all of my patients).
- Having to miss work and leaving my coworkers short staffed and my patients without the coverage they need.
- Getting sick from something other than Covid and not being able to find a hospital bed.
Y’all are tired of hearing me say this…but please…help everyone get through this by doing the following:
- Get your damn Covid shot AND your booster. Your chances of contracting Covid, developing symptomatic Covid, becoming critically ill with Covid and dying of Covid will be SIGNIFICANTLY reduced.
- Continue to wear masks. My family is now wearing KN95s when we’re out in public.
- Limit your social gatherings. If you MUST socialize, do so with a small group of vaccinated people and consider getting rapid covid tests prior to hanging out (if you can find one…SMH).
Taking these steps can literally save lives and help to get us past this pandemic so that we can ACTUALLY have a Happy New Year.