Dr. Campen is an ER doctor at Providence Saint Joseph Emergency Department, a Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine at UCLA Medical Center, and the CMO and Founder of Vital Medical Services. Follow her down to earth evidence based information at @glamERdoc
We're wrapping up the fourth week of sheltering in place. How is the morale at the front lines? How are you and your team holding up?
Morale is good. We are being sure to take breaks. The community has really supported us with food. which helps. We all understand the importance of rest in maintaining health. Putting on and taking off protective equipment is starting to get both routine, but also tiring.
We've been hearing good news in California, that our numbers compared to our population, are relatively lower than other parts of the country. Do you have any idea on why our state has fared comparatively well compared to other states?
Our state has definitely "flattened the curve." Our hospital system has not been overwhelmed. I feel this is from early action, communities staying at home, and the fact that Los Angeles is a very "spread-out" city vs New York.
How are you preparing for what they call to be the peak period of infection?
The peak predicted is today and I am working, wearing proper PPE, and have available hospital beds. We are prepared.
What have you learned about Covid-19 in your weeks treating patients with it and how has your treatment of it evolved since the pandemic began?
We are seeing that although it affects the respiratory system and decreases oxygen levels in the blood, simply applying supplemental oxygen rather than jumping to put people on ventilators, improves outcomes in patients.
Many individuals and communities are expressing support toward frontline workers like you; what does this support mean to you, and what do you say to those who want to do something tangible to help frontline workers?
Support has been amazing. We have gotten lots of food donations (when we are working we are hesitant to go down to the cafeteria or stop working to get food.) Having food right there in the department has been very helpful and kept away the "hangry" moods. People have also been very generous in donating items and services for stress relief. Days in the ER are very different now and are high stress. Being able to unwind after work is helpful (remember unlike those that have sheltered at home, we have been ramping up on our work days!) Additionally, my personal friends have been so resourceful. When I told them we were low on shoe covers, 4 cases showed up at my door!
How confident are you in your ability to keep yourself safe while treating patients with the virus?
This is what I do every day! I take care of sick people! I am confident that I will survive this.
Did you ever think during your medical training that you'd be battling a pandemic?
I have treated many pandemics (swine flu, bird flu, MERS,) but never a response like this where it seems the entire world has shut down. That is definitely a first
The Mayor recently passed ordinance requiring people to wear masks (I'll check the proper phrasing of this) in public, and extending the Stay at Home order until May 15. What do you think of this, and could you hazard a guess on when normal life might start to resume again?
I would be surprised if it goes much past May 15th. We need more than 60% of the population to get sick and form antibodies before we can conquer this illness. A vaccine is a year away (creating the vaccine is the easy part, studying the long term effects is what takes time) I foresee that restrictions will lift slowly with guidance (keeping social distancing, outlawing large public gatherings, encouraging the vulnerable members of society to remain at home, etc.