By Ana Carolina Aguiar
The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the need for first responders in the medical field. These workers have always been dedicated to their jobs, but the Coronavirus showed them what it means to be on the frontlines in an unprecedented way.
Frontline workers were not only responsible for the lives of their patients, but also for keeping their families safe after being exposed to the virus day in and day out.
Nurse Lourdes Estevez from Baptist Hospital said COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge this year. Estevez graduated from Barry with a bachelor’s degree in 2006 and received her masters as an acute care nurse practitioner in 2010.
Estevez notes that during the pandemic there were small changes in her daily routine at work that came together to exacerbate the challenges of her job.
For example, when the pandemic first began, Estevez and her team did not have personal protective equipment (PPE). When it came time to check in with patients, this posed quite an issue. On top of that, Estevez notes that there was stress surrounding the “constant changes with regards to treatment plans.”
According to Healthgrades, because there is no cure for COVID-19, hospitals have had to use what is referred to as “supportive care.” This treatment aims to support the body’s vital organs, although it is different depending on the severity of each patient.
Since there aren’t any FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19, Healthgrades notes that some doctors use antibiotics and antiviral drugs to treat patients. These varying kinds of treatments made caring for patients especially difficult, said Estevez
What was scariest for Estevez, however, was when she contracted the virus. Even worse, she ended up giving it to her husband and children.
“That was a super stressful time,” she said.
She also mentions that the second surge of COVID-19 was very overwhelming to work in.
At Baptist Hospital, Estevez conducts physical assessments and checks patient history during the admissions process. Often, she saw patients arriving to the hospital in critical condition.
“The patients who needed to come to the ER wouldn’t come out of fear of catching COVID-19,” said Estevez. “When they would come, their illnesses were so advanced, and they were so very sick.”
Now, however, Estevez notes that the pandemic is better than it was in July, but her hospital is still experiencing an influx of patients.
“The hospital is getting ready for a possible third surge this November,” said Estevez.
Last year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the busiest day in history for the Transportation Security Association, according to CBS News.
Such travel activity could cause a nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases.
Further, as winter approaches, more people are gathering in condensed spaces indoors. This is why experts are expecting a third surge.
However, Estevez takes special care to note that a pandemic as severe as this one was unforeseeable by everyone in her profession.
Dr. Amanda Courtney D.C. seconds this sentiment.
Courtney, a chiropractor, opened her practice, Spine by Design Chiropractic, in February, right before the pandemic began.
“Just seven short weeks into practice, COVID-19 was on every news channel,” said Courtney. “Healthcare workers like myself were trying to adapt quickly to the new changes. We had to ensure that our facilities were as safe and sanitary as possible.”
Since chiropracting services are essential, Courtney was able to treat patients throughout the pandemic.
“Keeping patients out of emergency rooms for treatable conditions like back pain is a huge help to other front-line workers,” said Courtney.
She made sure to implement safety precautions like the use of masks, disinfecting equipment between uses, and sanitizing between patients.
In addition, Courtney is sure to schedule her patients with much time in between them to reduce the risk of exposure in waiting rooms.
Despite the challenges the pandemic has created, Courtney is grateful for the lessons she has learned and has grown from this year. She believes that during stressful times like these, chiropractic care is a healthy way to reduce stress levels.
As frontline workers continue to fight the good fight against the Coronavirus, everyone is asked to continue to take precautions like social distancing and wearing their masks because your lives and that of medical professionals depend on it.