Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

Everyday Heroes in Scrubs

June 01, 2020

Everyday Heroes in Scrubs

By Tom Florence, EVP at Merritt Hawkins

Since the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in the United States in late January, healthcare professionals have been risking their own safety and health in order to treat and care for patients who have contracted the unfamiliar disease.


The countless doctors, nurses, and additional healthcare workers who continue to fight this global pandemic while the majority of the rest of the nation is encouraged to stay home are each dealing with the unexpected situation in different ways. Though there are more unique stories and heroic frontline workers than we will ever know, it is inspirational to hear their own insights and perspectives regarding what they face on a daily basis.


Barbara Edwards, a registered nurse in Gainesville, Florida, is one of the many healthcare professionals who volunteered to drop everything and travel to New York City last month to help with the rising COVID-19 cases. Edwards actually had to resign from her position in Florida in order to leave to New York, but she knew that it was something that she had to do.


“What it came down to was watching the numbers every day and seeing what was going on [there]—thousands of people dying every day,” Edwards told Ellen Degeneres via video chat on her show, Ellen.


Edwards also told Ellen that the response from residents in New York City has been uplifting and encouraging, and she and her coworkers feel a tremendous amount of love and appreciation from the entire city.


A Dallas-based nurse who requested not to be mentioned by name said that it has been rather overwhelming to go to work each day and see the number of coronavirus patients continue to rise. It is not her own health that concerns her, though.


“I’m not afraid of contracting the virus or even of dying,” she said. “What scares me most is how many people keep getting it and the lack of treatment and prevention we have for it. We’re doing everything we can to help every patient who comes in, but there are still so many unknowns.”


At the end of March, Dr. Craig Spencer, an Ebola survivor and the director of global health in emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, posted on Twitter a detailed description of a typical day in the life of an ER doctor and encouraged his followers to retweet so that others would realize what medical professionals are facing each day during this global pandemic.


“Walk in for your 8 a.m. shift: Immediately struck by how the calm of the early morning city streets is immediately transformed,” Spencer wrote. “The bright fluorescent lights of the ER reflect off everyone's protective goggles. There is a cacophony of coughing. You stop. Mask up. Walk in.”


He describes seeing patient after patient suffering from the coronavirus and having to call and notify their families that the patients are now on life support. He notes that doctors and nurses are so busy taking care of others that they sometimes forget to take complete care of themselves.


“Sometime in the afternoon you recognize you haven't drank any water,” he continued. “You're afraid to take off the mask. It's the only thing that protects you. Surely you can last a little longer—in West Africa during Ebola, you spent hours in a hot suit without water. One more patient.”


Spencer’s detailed account depicts how dangerous the conditions are for healthcare professionals but how thorough and fearless they are in caring for those battling this unexpected and unknown illness.


While scientist and medical experts continue to seek vaccines, treatments, and contributions to help society get somewhat back to “normal,” it is important to recognize how valuable those in the healthcare industry are—something that should not take a global pandemic for such accolades to occur.


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