We are all experiencing unprecedented times amidst the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. At MEDNAX, we have built our reputation navigating uncharted waters and are proud to be on the frontline of defense. During the COVID-19 crisis, our patients and their families remain our priority. To ensure access to care while minimizing potential COVID-19 exposure, we’re working closely with internal experts, hospital partners and public health agencies/organizations at the national, state and county levels to implement and adapt care protocols in real time. Despite this global pandemic, we’re also focused on the future; we’re working collaboratively across the continuum of care to better understand—and reduce—the impact of COVID-19 on the patients we serve.
Influences on clinician families
While our focus remains centered on the patient, our clinicians are not immune to the impact of this disease. For many clinicians across the country, the impacts of COVID-19 have transcended beyond the workplace and into their family’s lives. Marcella Mascher-Denen, M.D., a neonatologist at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, knows this struggle all too well.
Dr. Mascher-Denen lives in Phoenix, but has been commuting a six-and-a-half-hour drive to El Paso for the past eight months. At the beginning of the pandemic, during the height of the lockdowns and travel restrictions, she and her family had to make a difficult decision about where she was going to reside. With the family unable to move to El Paso due to her children’s schooling and the inability for Dr. Mascher-Denen to quarantine for 14 days in between hospital shifts, for everyone’s safety, they made the tough decision to temporarily separate. “My whole family and I sat together and talked about it very carefully. We decided to do what was best for the patients and the practice, even though it was a huge sacrifice for us,” she says. For three months, Dr. Mascher-Denen and her family were kept apart. “I think my youngest son had the roughest time getting used to the idea and understanding why I am putting myself at such risk. He had so many fears of, ‘What if you get sick? What if you can’t work? Or what if you bring it home and we get sick?’,” she shares. As travel restrictions eased, Dr. Mascher-Denen was finally able to safely reunite with her family on Mother’s Day in May.
Labor and delivery physicians learn to adapt
Denise Sutler, M.D., an OB hospitalist at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas in Houston, and Kathleen Horowitz, M.D., an OB hospitalist at Honor Health Shea Campus in Phoenix, also felt the immediate impacts of the global pandemic in their units. To keep both their patients and clinicians safe, Dr. Sutler’s hospital pioneered the implementation of universal testing for all labor and delivery admissions. By providing these rapid, same-day tests, their hospital was able to save high-level personal protective equipment (PPE) for when they needed it most—when caring for COVID-19 positive moms. In addition, new safety protocols for deliveries with positive mothers were quickly devised and implemented.
Despite having new protocols in place, the added stress of the pandemic is present for many clinicians. Dr. Sutler describes how, after a long day, required PPE such as N95 masks can become extremely painful and difficult to wear. Dr. Horowitz shares that she and her team have experienced “Zoom fatigue” from the uptick in virtual meetings. “I see a lot of people in the healthcare field starting to understandably get tired,” Dr. Horowitz says. “I’m worried now that the numbers are going down, we are going to see everyone let their guard down, and the numbers will go back up. We can’t let this happen; we all still need to be diligent and mindful.”
From providing our practices and hospital partners with proper PPE to quickly shifting to remote work and implementing innovative telemedicine solutions, MEDNAX has made (and continues to make) a concerted effort to protect and support its providers and employees during this challenging time. This, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the help of our clinicians across the country aiding in the development of new care protocols, spearheading and participating in groundbreaking research and providing much-needed support to each other along the way. As part of a national network, our clinicians have had the unique benefit of sharing and learning from one another’s experiences across various specialties and subspecialties, ultimately enabling safe and uninterrupted patient care.
Learn more about MEDNAX’s COVID-19 response and check out our previous COVID-19 related blog articles:
- A different perspective on “PPE” during the COVID-19 crisis
- Newborn hearing screeners don't lose heart during COVID-19
- Study: The Impact of Coronavirus on Pregnant Women
- A new normal in the NICU
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