I am the practice manager of a private dental practice, where I also currently serve as the receptionist and conduct initial screenings for COVID-19 for our office. Dental offices, if they choose to remain open, have been mandated by the state of Florida to only see patients with emergencies in order to keep toothaches and such out of the ER/hospitals.
Our tiny team would absolutely LOVE to observe the “keep a 6-foot distance between us and others in the same room” guideline 100% of the time in the office, but… Hmm… In dentistry, that’s a tough one. No, actually, that’s impossible. You can screen, you can assume someone is virus-free, and then you sit or stand maybe 2 feet away from their mouth during surgeries.
Needless to say, we in the office find it super sketchy, but we want to do our part by keeping dental emergencies away from the hospital, so—for the time being, this is our reality.
Another Family Member in Healthcare
One of my sisters (the former cardiac ICU nurse) is taking extra shifts at a pediatrics office.
The Little Bro I’m So Dang Proud Of
My brother Anton works at a trauma hospital where he’s just all over the place. He has two bachelor degrees (biomedical sciences and public health) and is currently in the middle of getting his MPH (Master of Public Health) therefore everything related to what’s going around the world right now is his field of study—and of course, I want to know what he thinks.
In an email I asked him this question: “In your opinion, from all you’ve read and studied, if you were in charge of a country or state, how would you go about containing a rampant respiratory virus?”
He responded with this on 3/17/20:
Well, to begin with, before an epidemic of a novel virus occurred I would want to change the infrastructure of the health care system and have a massive health reform. Ideally, I would want a single payer system focusing on primary and preventive care and less on specialized services.
I definitely wouldn’t have disbanded the US department in charge of Infectious Disease like Trump did; because [of] climate change, population growth and an increase in chronic illnesses, infectious disease will rise and have more impact because of the increasing number of vulnerable people with preexisting conditions and the elderly (because the age group of older adults is getting bigger every day). Containing something like coronavirus isn’t easy because of how easy travel is these days it is hard to restrict. So isolation and prevention of transmission and exposure is the only thing that can be done.
The odds of a vaccine being done within a year are unlikely so the focus would definitely be on containment. The response that the government is doing now is appropriate. I think more restriction should be in place.
It’s difficult for the United States though because, unlike many developed nations, we don’t have guaranteed sick leave and our policies are much less socially oriented; they are more economy and business oriented. So it would be essential to put some bills on the floor of the House that wouldn’t just require temporary relief for being sick during an epidemic but require it regardless. Improving the underlying social determinants of health are the things that need the most focus but rarely get it. Addressing poverty and access to health services. Because of our health system it makes it particularly easy for the virus to spread because many people can’t afford care and won’t seek it (thus potentially spreading the virus more) or (because of the president) there is so much misinformation about the risks of the disease that people don’t know what to believe (and there is stuff on social media about taking a hot bath or drinking bleach to kill the virus. It’s absurd).
It’s a real complex situation honestly because we’re not set up to succeed in a situation like this. Coordination isn’t easy in the US either because each health department of each state has its own rules and regulations on data gathering and so none of their methods are standardized across states. There are too many opportunities for a lack of coordination and communication.
My plan would be to assign roles to a task force, like has been done by the US [previously], but I would fill it with competent, knowledgeable people. Main thing would be having an emergency infectious disease protocol to follow and available to states. In this protocol there would be the roles of every employee in companies so that there is no question as to what is to be done or where information is to be reported. It’s a real tough situation, mostly because this doesn’t even just involve the health sector.
I feel like that was a rant without much of a specific action lol
Anton on 3/19/20:
I haven’t hit traffic once in the last two weeks it’s going to be real eerie if the government issues a mandatory lockdown of some sort. It’s a real crazy time to be alive lol I definitely agree though, it’s a real cringe-worthy reality I feel like I’m in some Orwellian and Vonnegut offshoot of reality.
Anton on 3/25/20:
New precautions at the hospital enacted today: No visitors whatsoever except NICU and Obstetrics and ALL employees are screened everyday upon entry into the hospital. I waited 15 minutes in a line that wrapped to the bay of —— Island this morning to get inside! It’s getting wild. I am doing a health screening shift tomorrow so it’s going to be bonkers!
Prayers for my little bro and everyone in the thick of this mess! We appreciate you all in public health and healthcare, stay strong, stay safe!!
5 thoughts on “My COVID-19 Check In”
This makes me grateful that live in a coutntry with “free at the point of delivery” “cradle to grave” health care provided by the state, but still concerned that our government has been so slow to act in the face of a crisis.
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Thanks for the info. I canceled my regular dental cleaning scheduled for this week at the clinic I go to here in Japan. As a business owner, I feel bad for canceling at a time like this when every dollar (yen) counts. But it’s necessary to prevent the spread. (Only) Four confirmed cases of the virus in the city where I live. Hopefully, it will remain contained. Hang in there, Florida and everyone!
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It certainly is a horrific situation and an especially worrying time for everyone in healthcare. My daughter and her partner are hospital doctors and I worry for them. I’ve had the impression it was handled reasonably well here (UK) although we started under resourced and probably locked down a week late but still we look set for the highest death rate in Europe or thereabouts…I hope you and your family keep well and stay safe and that lessons for the future will be learned throughout the world along the lines your brother suggests.
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Thank you, Janine! I hope you and yours family are able to stay safe, too!!
Great post – and thanks to you and all your family working so hard in dangerous times. I hope the US is able to see its way to universal healthcare post the crisis. While our government (UK) hasn’t handled the pandemic well, I’m deeply, deeply grateful that we have the NHS.
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