Day in the Life:
Craig Spencer, MD
With the emergence and spread of COVID-19 or Coronavirus, the world is shaken by the impact this novel virus is having on the health and wellbeing of our communities. Many of us are now at home self-quarantining to minimize our own risks of infection as well as of infecting others. Medical professionals and staff, on the other hand, are at the front lines of this ongoing war against Coronavirus. One doctor, Dr. Craig Spencer, has shared his daily routine as an emergency-room doctor on Twitter, shedding light on what health care workers are going through during this global health crisis. Dr. Craig Spencer is an ER doctor and the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He has previously treated patients with Ebola when working in Guinea and even contracted and recovered from the virus himself. After fighting Ebola, Dr. Spencer is now fighting Coronavirus. Many people, including Barack Obama, have re-shared his daily routine on social media to commend healthcare workers and emphasize the importance of self-quarantining.
“Our medical professionals are heroes putting their lives on the line to keep our country going. Here’s a look at how an ER doctor who already fought on the front lines of one crisis makes it through a day in this one. A good reminder for us to help them out by staying home.” – Barack Obama
Dr. Craig Spencer’s daily routine:
- 6:30 am – Wake up, make and drink coffee
- 7:00 am – Walk to hospital, avoid public transport
- 8:00 am – Put on protective goggles and mask before entering the hospital
- 8:10 am – Work: assess and treat patients with COVID-19
- 3:00 pm – Lunch in hospital’s cafeteria
- 3:20 pm – Back to work
- 7:00 pm – Shift ends: clean and disinfect everything
- 7:10 pm – Walk home
- 7:40 pm – Protective measures before entering household
- 7:50 pm – Shower
- 8:00 pm – Dinner + family time
- 10:00 pm – Sleep
Wake up, drink coffee
With all the coffee stores shut down, Dr. Spencer makes his own coffee every day at home to prepare for his long day ahead.
Treating patients with COVID-19
Following the increase in testing for COVID-19 in the U.S., the number of cases has skyrocketed over the past few weeks. Dr. Craig Spencer describes the growing number of cases he has seen at work:
“Nearly everyone you see today is the same. We assume everyone is #COVIDー19. We wear gowns, goggles, and masks at every encounter. All day. It’s the only way to be safe. Where did all the heart attacks and appendicitis patients go? It’s all COVID.”
Unfortunately, the dramatic increase in cases has led to a shortage of medical equipment needed to treat patients and protect medical staff. Many hospitals, such as the Los Angeles emergency room, were forced to resort to expired masks that are prone to breakage during use. Dr. Spencer reveals that there are not enough ventilators to support severely ill patients, and this is heartbreaking news to patients and their families. The lack of medical supplies to support the growing number of cases is why it is so important for us to carry out social distancing and self-quarantine procedures.
Due to the contagious nature of Coronavirus, Dr. Craig Spencer does not remove his mask at any point when taking care of patients – not even to drink water.
“Sometime in the afternoon you recognize you haven’t drank any water. 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…”
Dr. Spencer doesn’t have lunch until the late afternoon. Before eating, he washes his hands thoroughly and finally removes his mask for the first time to eat.
“By late afternoon, you need to eat. Restaurant across the street is closed. Right, everything is closed. But thankfully the hospital cafeteria is open. You grab something, wash your hands (twice), cautiously take off your mask, & eat as fast as you can.”
Clean and Disinfect Everything
Before leaving the hospital, all hospital workers must wipe down everything they have touched with disinfectants such as alcohol or bleach. All possible protective measures must be taken to minimize the risk of being infected.
“Before you leave, you wipe EVERYTHING down. Your phone. Your badge. Your wallet. Your coffee mug. All of it. Drown it in bleach. Everything in a bag. Take no chances. Sure you got it all??? Wipe it down again. Can’t be too careful.”
Protective Measures at Home
Dr. Spencer describes the process of carrying out cautionary measures before entering his home so that he does not infect his own family.
“You get home. You strip in the hallway (it’s ok, your neighbors know what you do). Everything in a bag. Your wife tries to keep your toddler away, but she hasn’t seen you in days, so it’s really hard. Run to the shower. Rinse it all away. Never happier. Time for family.”
Owaves would like to express deep gratitude for the medical professionals and staff who are working hard to fight this pandemic. Every day, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff continue to show up and risk their own lives to save others – this does not go unnoticed. Selfless acts like these are what saves humanity and drives us forward. With medical workers doing their jobs, it is also extremely important for us to do ours. To fight this pandemic, we must practice protective measures so that we can collectively slow the rate of COVID-19 and not overwhelm medical facilities. Protective measures include staying at home, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and as often as possible, and avoiding touching your face. This novel virus has presented unprecedented challenges for communities all over and is spreading faster than ever. With that said, the goal is not to induce panic but to raise awareness so that we can fight this virus together.
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