Pay Attention Now! Don’t Wait Until COVID-19 Affects You

Learning from the experience of others allows us to grow.

What is it going to take to wake people up? The coronavirus pandemic is not a hoax. Our friends, families, coworkers, and our patients are catching COVID-19. Chances are increasing; each of us will be exposed to someone with coronavirus.

Many people are still in the mindset of “this won’t happen to me.” Now is the time to shift our thinking and face the reality in our communities.

Our Texas Obgyn practice, located in the heart of a COVID-19 hot spot, wants to protect our providers, staff, and mommies-to-be. For the past four months, I spend my hours before and after work writing about the pandemic. My goal is simple. I want to save lives.

We are making progress. Our providers, staff, and patients wear masks, respect social distancing, and practice hand-hygiene. During each office visit, providers and pregnant patients discuss the challenges of the pandemic.

We listen as our patients express their fears and desires to protect their unborn babies. Every day, the level of patient engagement surprises me. Patients are well-informed about the pandemic and follow the mitigation guidelines.

Coronavirus does not stop pregnancy. Pandemic or not, these babies are coming out. Each new birth represents hope for humanity.

But this weekend, I cared for five COVID-19 + women in labor. FIVE. One by one, they trickled in. Our hospitals began universal testing for laboring women a few weeks ago. At first, cases were sparse. Now, we see cases every day.

The upward case trend continues; three more the next day and three the day after.

Tomorrow will likely be the same.

Halfpoint Istock by Getty

The media reports increasing daily numbers, and most people listen. But sadly, some do not. I still see maskless faces in our community. Some patients went to July 4th barbecues, family reunionsquinceañeras, weddings, and funerals.

Patients attend these heartwarming get-togethers but leave with COVID-19.

These fun family events lead to future hospital admissions.

After my 48-hour hospital shift ends, I climb into bed. Despite the fatigue and exhaustion, my mind races. I was emotionally prepared for a worsening of coronavirus in Dallas/Fort Worth, but caring for five laboring COVID-19 moms in one shift was a serious wake-up call.

Obgyn physicians and labor and delivery nurses are not accustomed to pandemic pregnancies. It’s hard on everyone. My nursing colleagues are brave, professional, and committed. They are also fatigued, scared, and suffering trying to mentally cope with coronavirus tragedies

Our job is to help women safely navigate through the happiest moment of their lives.

We do not want to see women die.

Why aren’t Americans learning from the experience of others?

Every day we hear the news. TV, newspaper, and social media reporting make it clear the COVID-19 is not under control. We are losing. At this point, no one should be surprised if they contract COVID-19.

Yet, many people will only listen when the virus affects them directly. The reality will hit when they lose a loved one or personally end up intubated in an ICU.

Considering there are 360 million Americans, guideline compliance can not wait for each individual to have a personal experience. There has to be a better way.

Learning from the experience of others is how we grow in life. We all make mistakes, and we all fail. The critical step towards personal growth is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. My father used to say, “never make the same mistake twice.”

To beat the virus, save ourselves, and protect our families, each of us must learn from others’ experience and apply the lessons.

Why are COVID-19 cases increasing?

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is getting hit hard right now. Texas reopened its economy early. We are now seeing the after-effects of the July 4th weekend as we average 1000 new cases per day.

Despite our practice’s consistent provider messaging, blog posts, social media outreach, and public service text messaging, everyone is not following the guidelines.

We need 100% compliance. Everyone on earth is only as safe as the most irresponsible person around us.

No one cares until it’s personal

Every day the media shares a story of someone who made the mistake of thinking COVID-19 is a hoax, a mild infection like the flu, or a leftist conspiracy plot

The San Antonio Express News reported the death of a 30-year-old who attended a COVID party where people deliberately try to get infected. His dying words were, “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”

While COVID parties may seem ridiculous to most people, many are feeling pandemic fatigue. Friends and family often tell me, “I would be better off catching it and getting it over with.” While I understand the sentiment and the feeling of inevitability, the frightening reality is doctors can not predict the outcome when someone is infected.

Statistically, 80% have a mild or asymptomatic infection. 20% will be sick enough to require hospitalization, and some will die.

We can not wait to take precautions seriously until every person in America has the personal experience of losing someone they love.

Learning from other’s experiences gives us power

When behavior change relies solely on direct, personal experience, we limit our opportunity to grow. When we see someone slip and fall, we help them up and then avoid the obstacle.

When we hear outbreak stories of groups infected at church, political rallies, or coronavirus themed night club parties, we owe it to ourselves and each other to learn from these mistakes.

Today, a man beat a Texas bus driver with a 2 x 4 wooden board when he was asked to don a mask. These stories trigger revulsion, anger, and resentment. But the opportunity for each of us is to find a moment for personal growth. We may not be in a position to help the bus driver, but we can reflect on our own behavior to make sure we are doing everything we can to help make the world a safer place.

Reading, studying, and learning from others expands our minds beyond our own personal limitations. We grow and become better versions of ourselves. We also avoid making mistakes ourselves and prevent future pain and suffering.

In the context of the pandemic, learning from others may save our lives.

The pandemic has brought doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to the forefront sharing direct experience dealing with the coronavirus. Please realize we are living examples of the pandemic reality.

We share our experience to help you avoid this nightmare.

So what comes next to stop the surging COVID-19 cases?

Covid-19 is a new virus for which we don’t have a vaccine, effective medication, or baseline immunity. The answer to stopping the spread is not a secret. We all know what to do: wash your hands, practice physical distancing at least six feet apart, and wear a mask.

Until we discover a vaccine, effective treatment, or reach herd immunity, the safest course of action is for every American to live as though we are all asymptomatic carriers. The sad truth is any one of us may be shedding the virus and putting others at risk.

These minor life alterations may potentially save someone else’s life and protect a mother’s baby.

We all must do our part.

I will wear my mask to protect you. Will you wear one to protect others?

Thank you to ILLUMINATION for publishing this article on Medium.

Blog Author: Dr. Jeff Livingston 

Main Blog Photo By: United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

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