Profile taken with permission from Beacon
(Dr. Goldstein is the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Memorial Health.)
How did your job change because of the shut down?
My job had some pretty dramatic changes throughout the course of this pandemic. Much of this is secondary to the change in the type of work and patient population I cared for, but also in the complete overhaul of our work environment. I am now in full personal protective gear during my whole shift where I feel the urgent need to take parts of it off every hour or so just to be able to take some deep breaths and let there be some intermittent relief from the persistent pressure that the protective gear has on my face. The workdays are much more strenuous, but I know I need to do all that I’m doing to protect the patients, myself, and other emergency department staff.
Were you ever scared to come to work?
I find this an interesting question in my line of work... In all honesty, I’ve never felt scared to come to work. I know others in my line of work were, but I always felt the commitment to do what needed to be done and take the best care I could of my patients. I always protect myself from infection as best I can, but am not fearful of doing whatever is needed for the care of my patients.
What are you doing to protect yourself and your family?
When I am at work, I am fully protected in PPE. I make sure I wash my hands frequently and don’t touch any skin surfaces with any potentially contaminated items. I change my clothes after work and shower immediately when I get home. My shoes never come inside. As for outside of work, I have been a persistent social distancer and don’t come in close contact with anyone. I make sure I wear a mask in public.
How have people‘s behavior changed?
At first, I don’t think people were taking this illness seriously. Now, I think people are taking this seriously. I noticed everyone around me social distancing and wearing masks when in public. I am very proud of the way our community responded and kept our COVID-19 numbers at bay.
How has your view changed about the work that you do since the shut down?
I actually have even more pride in the work that I do. I feel that I have been there for people when in need, and it has been a great honor to be able to take care of people in a time of crisis.
What do you wish other people understood about your work?
Emergency Medicine is a very tough gig. Unfortunately, we cannot control our environment, our patient influx, or the acuity of the patients coming into the emergency department. Most of the time, I have just a few minutes to figure out what is going on with the patient, make them feel comfortable with who I am as they are putting their well-being in my hands and have never met me, and then do all that I can to take excellent care of them. This makes it a very difficult job just because of the circumstances and the inability to control your time or the environment around you.
I also want people to understand that our emergency room is still a safe place to receive care. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, some patients have not come to the hospital when they should have. That’s not good and it’s not safe. We’ve put plans in place to make sure our patients and staff are safe, so please don’t delay care for medical emergencies.
If you could give our elected representatives a piece of advice, what would it be?
I guess these days everything is about partisanship. My belief is that there should be some common ground in the middle, and the middle might not be that bad. I think it would lead to many in the world getting along much better, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What experience from this will you carry with you?
I hope we never have to experience this again… This has been tough for many people, and the outpouring of community support and friendliness to those in need has been overwhelming to me.
What is something you miss pre-COVID?
I really miss community and togetherness. It is very weird when you greet someone and you don’t walk within six feet of them and give them a handshake. I find this to be very hard and I feel distant from people and relationships secondary to this.
What has the shutdown taught you about what is most essential?
I feel togetherness and relationships are most essential. Social distancing has prevented people from joining with their friends and having personal support. I feel this is greatly needed and relationships are extremely important.