OK, so today started day #1 at the hotel. But before I get to that, let me briefly mention that this weekend also represented another milestone – a surging volume of COVID patients. This is no surprise given that Massachusetts cases have increased to just under 5,000 as of the date of this post, with 48 deaths attributed to the virus. While we typically don’t need to place COVID patients in negative pressure rooms, those with aerosolizing procedures do require negative pressure. Since I only trimmed, but did not fully shave my beard, I require this PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator). It blows filtered air from a motor (strapped to my back – you can’t see the motor/filter unit in this picture). The air is pumped from the top of the mask to the bottom, and comes out those holes underneath my chin.
PAPRs are loads of fun. Picture yourself putting a hood on which causes your voice to echo with every word. Then turn on a jet engine next to your ears. Needless to say, between your own voice echoing into your ears and the continuous sound of wind directed into your face, it’s tough to have a particularly rich conversation with a patient. Now, for a moment imagine you enter the room of a patient with dementia who is already disoriented due to being sick and from just being in the hospital…and they get woken up first thing in the AM by Darth Vader’s White-Helmeted friend with the his name, “Steve,” clearly labelled on the top of his hood. And we wonder why people get confused in the hospital? At least I wake them up with a smile! Come to think of it, I’d love to be able to see the reaction from one of my kids if I walked into their bedroom in the middle of the night and said “boo.” But no, PPE stays at the hospital – seriously. On that note, if you have surgical or N95 masks, let me know.
But I digress. Today I moved to a hotel. Why did I move to a hotel? The bottom line is that every family needs to make a decision of what works best for them. No medical experts are telling every healthcare worker to avoid returning home at all. They make recommendations which they feel will protect everyone involved. The reality is that some people and their families feel comfortable with that, some may not be but still would not be able to separate like this due to a variety of reasons, and some may decide to separate from their White-Helmeted, Steve-Labelled, COVID-Caring hospital-worker. So here I am.
After my wife got a flat-out “no!” from some AirBnb hosts when they heard I was a physician working in a hospital, I have since been welcomes by a very welcoming, understanding hotel. I already have a picture up from my daughter, something I would imagine will become a priceless classic one day. And I’m getting warm meals from home everyday too! Still miss the wife and dogs (…OK, and the kids too)!