Sekhmet 7|12: The Unyielding
As the second wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the nation, physicians are once again being put in impossible positions. Even though women make up nearly 40% of the active physician workforce in America today, they have been disproportionately affected by COVID in their roles as physicians as well as their roles as parents and spouses. Because female physicians are often tasked with the responsibilities of being a caregiver for their own family on top of the one responsible for coordinating child-care needs, COVID has placed an even greater burden on them. It must not be understated that those who are able continue to give voice to the female physicians doing so much for our country during this very unique time.
Dr. A. Bouden: I have a sixteen-year-old daughter. For the past year, we had envisioned a beautiful sweet-sixteen party for her. However, with a heavy heart, my husband and I decided that this was not an appropriate time given what our country has been going through with COVID. While our daughter was saddened by this news, she understood it to be the right thing to do. A friend of hers did not make the same decision and proceeded with a large celebration. I am now taking care of her father in the ICU after he contracted COVID from a party attendant. If only we could all realize the difference between what we want from what we need.
Dr. S. DeWalt: I am the only physician in my family. Everyone is relying on my guidance on how to proceed with family get-togethers and holiday plans and have been incredibly respectful of my guidance. However, when my daughter saw that a large “back-to-school” party was happening next door, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t attend. Two weeks later, two of her classmates tested positive for COVID and her entire class was shut down. I, too, am exhausted with COVID but when will people realize that until we all make sacrifices and better choices, we will remain stuck in this situation.
Dr. K. Reynolds: Our hospital lost a nurse to COVID in August. A friend of mine who did not believe that COVID was harmful as I tried explaining to her, refused to acknowledge her ignorance towards the situation. Three weeks ago she buried her husband after he contracted COVID and suffered from multiple complications from it. She said, “I wish you had done more to warn me of the dangers of COVID.” Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, however until America learns to listen to what they do not want to hear, we will continue to lose our loved ones to this virus.
Dr. E. Kay: My sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September. Six weeks after her diagnosis, she died. Her only request of us was to forgo her funeral. “My life was a celebration each day I lived. I will not let my death be the cause of another’s.” She was a physician as well. We are all making sacrifices.
Dr. M. Kohl: The second wave of COVID has hit our town just an hour outside the state’s capitol. I had my daughter three weeks ago: however I ended my maternity leave early because our system was struck so hard, I was needed. Three of my colleagues are hospitalized and the others in my practice are working nearly a hundred hours a week because we are so short-handed. I understand that times are tough for everyone, however, if we all sacrificed a little, physicians and other healthcare workers wouldn’t have to sacrifice more than their fair share.
Dr. S. Gant: I work in a large community hospital. Our hospital has lost at least one patient to COVID for the past twenty-two days in a row. The amount of work is so great that I have slept at the hospital for the past nine nights and have only seen my children via Facetime during this time. The hardest part is watching friends and family exist as though everything is back to normal - all the while I and so many others are sacrificing everything to keep our communities healthy.
Dr. L. Gnatt: Healthcare workers are sacrificing so much of themselves right now by working longer hours and extra days to care for patients as COVID numbers soar. I am struggling due to the deep disappointment I feel from many in my community for being so cavalier about our COVID situation. Many are denying its existence while others are actively dying.
Dr. P. Walker: The school district my children attend has worked tirelessly to get them ready for in-person learning. I and three other physicians helped speed the process. However, a group consisting of thirty moms decided it was a good idea to throw a Kids-Are-Going-Back-To-In-Class-Instruction party without social distancing or mask-wearing. Four of them became ill with COVID and subsequently so did their children. Unfortunately, the school officials decided to push back in-class instruction until after December as a result. The amount of work that went in to make this a possibility went down the drain because of a selfish few.
Dr. D. Lee: Tomorrow will be my children’s ninth month in a row of quarantine. My husband and I are intensivists and have not seen each other for more than two days in a row in the past three months. I wish we could pretend that COVID isn’t real but if we did that would lead to more people dying. If only America could realize that we are all sacrificing during this time.
Dr. T. Mandelburg: Currently I am seeing patients after hours who are struggling due to losing a loved one from COVID by ensuring they are getting access to the help they need during this very difficult time. I wish America could see that our services as physicians are finite and there is only so much we can do. We cannot do this alone and if we continue to see numbers rise, we will not be able to keep up with the demand. Then where will we be?
In an effort to provide recognition to the female physicians of America, it is incumbent that we continue to support their efforts and needs. For it is their sacrifices that are likely responsible for our country’s head to remain above water during this incredibly difficult time. If we all continue to choose community over self, we may find ourselves minimizing the number of lives lost to this very deadly pandemic. Let us all strive to be like those female physicians who are UNYIELDING.
If you would like to learn how you can help women in healthcare, please visit AMA.org and visit their COVID-19 Resource Guide: Women in Medicine, to find out more.