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Local Medical Practitioner Pens Letter To TLS

To all my friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors,

Working as a medical practitioner in a local Emergency Room puts me in a unique position on the front line of this terrible pandemic. I’m not an expert on COVID-19, but I don’t believe anybody is at this point. I can only share my experiences and my clinical knowledge.

I feel it’s important to establish a few facts. First, we don’t know much about this disease because it is brand new. We don’t know exactly how it is transmitted and we have no vaccine or proven treatment. True, there are experimental treatments you may have heard about, but they have not been proven to help, and they are potentially harmful as well.

The government has set guidelines for social distancing which seems to be the only sure way to avoid transmission, but they’ve allowed exceptions for grocery, doctor visits, etc. Just to be clear: this does not mean that going to the grocery is safe and will not transmit the disease, it just means that they understand and allow for necessities. In my mind, every time we walk out of our house and get near other people (the six feet away is merely a suggestion and is not likely to be sufficient based on how contagious this is) we take a very big risk of contracting this disease.

I feel that many people underestimate this disease (some in the medical community as well). What I am seeing every day tells me that this disease is something to be respected and feared. It is both highly contagious, and very dangerous. Though some people have mild flu-like symptoms, there are many who get very sick. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are young and healthy and have no medical problems, don’t smoke, and exercise, etc. That is usually the case for most viruses such as the flu, but COVID-19 is not like that. Yes, people with underlying disease are at higher risk, as do elderly, but even young, healthy people are getting very sick. I also personally know many doctors and healthcare workers who are currently sick. In case you’re not convinced by the horrific list of names that keeps generating on public forums, let me give you an example of what I am seeing here in the ED. We admitted a young patient with no medical history, with progressing shortness of breath and a bad pneumonia. I had another fairly young man who is still hospitalized with a bad pneumonia, currently on oxygen. Two more older individuals were admitted with severe pneumonias. We had several patients who required intubation and now have ventilators breathing for them. These patients are often having typical flu symptoms for a week, then very quickly decompensating and getting very sick. The pneumonias that are typical with COVID-19 are usually bilateral (both sides), and can get very large, very fast, which makes breathing very difficult. If these patients are not treated aggressively, they can progress to full respiratory failure, and require intubation. B”H they are all getting good medical treatment thanks to hardworking hospital workers, but they are sick.

My purpose here is not to panic anyone. It is to give you more information from someone who is seeing the more severe aspects firsthand. Don’t take it lightly. Even if you’re young, you can get very sick, or you could give it to a relative, friend, or another human being, who may not fare as well as you.

I have also recently heard a very disturbing piece of information: that some people who have had symptoms and are beginning to recover have lifted restrictions off themselves, with the assumption that they are immune and can go back to regular life – do their family shopping, congregate for minyanim, or go to parents for Pesach. This is completely irresponsible and I believe they are putting every single person they come near at serious risk of illness and possibly death . To me it would be safer to stick their family and friends with HIV infected needles which carry only 1 in 300 risk of transmission. Their behavior carries MUCH higher risk. Even if they have NO symptoms anymore, this is a new virus and we don’t know how long it can still be transmitted. Behavior like this will continue to spread the virus and there will be RCHM”N more names on the Tehilim and Baruch Dayan Emes lists.

Knowing what I know, I impress upon my own family to try not to step out of the door unless absolutely necessary, and if so, keep far away from others, use a mask, wash hands thoroughly, and keep the exposure brief. This is the best chance we have to avoid contracting this dangerous disease. My family has been ordering our food or supplies for delivery, and not going anywhere public at all, even to stores that remain open.

Just to reiterate, this is all my personal opinions and experiences, and I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone else, but from many other clinicians I have spoken with, many have a similar attitude regarding this terrible crisis. Therefore, I urge you, please follow the guidance of your state and local leaders. Stay home as much as you can. Make use of online shopping and curbside pickup . Use face-masks, wash your hands often. Skip the family visits, especially with grandparents and vulnerable populations. We want to stop the spread of the disease quickly so we can all go back to work.

I hope that there is a quick resolution, and that the morbidity and mortality stop quickly, but until then, please treat this as a very serious threat, and take every precaution to keep yourselves, your family, and our communities safe.

Sincerely,

An anonymous medical practitioner from the Lakewood community.

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There are 15 Comments to "Local Medical Practitioner Pens Letter To TLS"

  • FL says:

    With all due respect, you lose credibility when you are anonymous. I can also claim to be a doctor. If you want your opinions to be taken seriously, you should use your name and title.

  • The anonymous practitioner says:

    FL – thanks for commenting. Since I work for a hospital, I have to be careful in publishing content with my name or theirs lest my comments be construed as their official views. I was unfortunately not comfortable posting this with my name but hope the message will still be received well and will help people understand the severity of this epidemic.

  • Moish24/6 says:

    FL, very good point

  • LkwdGuy says:

    FL,
    With all due respect, mamish a mind boggling comment. This health care professional or whoever he or she really is is not saying anything that every bar daas doesn’t already understand. There is only one thing that can be done al pi derech hateva right now to stop the spread and that’s to not have any contact with people. What credibility is needed to stress that point? Is there really another tzad?

  • Wondering says:

    Where is the responsibility of the Lakewood scoop in sending out information that has zero backing? There is not even a name attached to this. Is this to sensationalize the issue? Please be responsible as you have the power to spread information, both accurate and otherwise.

  • Aron goldberg says:

    He smartly did not publish his name probably as not to get into the political fray. Firstly, you can tell by the knowledge in the letter that he knows what he’s talking about. Second, I trust that TLS wouldn’t publish it if he wasn’t reliable and reputable.

  • agreed says:

    Thank you! I agree that people dont realize that the symptoms can progress rapidly from one day to the next. it is imperative for those in earlier stages to get a pulse and oxygen monitor and make sure that these are ok a few times a day even if there doesn’t appear to be a shortness of breath because not everyone picks up on this until its too late cv. I am wondering if your hospital prescribes hydoxichloroquine or not and if not why not?

    • The Anonymous Practitioner says:

      The policies are changing almost daily, but for now we are not treating anyone who is healthy enough to go home, with any of these medications. People who are admitted to the hospital are often being started on hydroxychloroquine and/or other medications which are then adjusted based on the recommendations of the infectious disease doctors.

  • RN says:

    FL-
    Your comment makes no sense. I work for a local hospital and will lose my job if I speak to the media. They remind us every day. So obviously the author of this letter did not feel comfortable using their real name, as the hospital does not want people to publish their views.

  • Hinei B'ohel says:

    I personally know who wrote this letter and saw it from a family member before it was published it on Lakewood Scoop. Hospital policy does not allow him to write his name. If this helps even one person, it was worth posting.

  • anonymous says:

    1. If you can tell me where you are able to get groceries for delivery – all the ones I tried are not delivering before Pesach anymore…
    2. Is it really like that – that one can have flu like symptoms for a week prior to getting shortness of breath (which btw flu does include cold like symptoms – running nose – post nasal drip and I keep hearing that covid does not come with a cold)

  • anonymous says:

    Please elaborate on flu like symptoms for a week prior to coming into the hospital – is it really flu – like with cold and all or is it only a dry cough and fever?

    • L'Chaim says:

      In any medical assessment, there are several components: patient’s symptoms, physical exam, laboratory testing, imaging studies ( X-ray, sonogram, etc.).

      The more common symptoms associated with this infection are dry cough, fever (100.5 F and higher), tiredness, generalized body aches, difficulty breathing of various degrees. Less commonly, there are other symptoms – sore throat, headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nasal congestion (runny nose is not typical but doesn’t exclude possibility of SARS CoV 2).

      Presentation of this infection varies widely and, therefore, if someone has no symptoms – it is still possible to be a carrier. On the other hand, having these symptoms are not necessary means that a person has COVID 19.

      We are all anxious to know if we or our loved ones have the infection. However, nobody can establish this fact based only on the above-mentioned symptoms. If one develops any of the above symptoms, he/she should be evaluated by a qualified medical practitioner (it’s not Do-It-Yourself kind of project) and tested for SARS CoV 2 if it’s indicated.

      The only definite diagnosis can be established by performing SARS CoV 2 specific test.

  • Still figuring out what to do says:

    With all the guidelines we are given, still hard to figure out how to handle the situations with older Almanahs who are OK living alone with telephone contact, etc, but not sure about the safety of a 3 day Yomtov alone. We are still trying to figure this out with my own mother. All our households have had mild illness pass through our doors (or so we think, no one was BH ill enough to be tested). In the absence of rapid result testing, we can’t know if it’s safer to send a grandchild and have him/her wear a mask and be careful, or have our mother wing it alone with a couple of knocks on the window from neighbors every so often. We live too far to walk often. My mother has many friends in this matzav, afraid to go anywhere but afraid to be alone.

  • ys says:

    i agree with the previous comment. anonymous ‘doctors’ letters should not be published.
    the CDC says that after 3 days without symptoms the person could be assumed to not be contagious and does not have to quarantine; im not sure where this ‘doctor’ is getting his info from, but someone in that situation most definitely can go shopping for his family for Pesach

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