Double Duty: Mother and Emergency Department Doctor

Dr. Suzanne Echemendia-Wirth
Mother and Emergency Department Doctor

Being a mother and Emergency Department physician during the time of COVID-19 is a major challenge.  My colleagues and I are grateful for our ability to step up and serve our communities, yet we also have families, and we worry about exposing them unnecessarily to this dangerous virus.
We know that the number of reported cases of COVID-19 is inordinately low.  The impact of this disease has been, and will continue to be, far greater than we can imagine.

People in the community have been supportive in sending us meals and hand-sewn masks, and we are appreciative.  But I have great trepidation about the support being offered on the state and national level. We need more information and more data before we re-open our economy.  As physicians, we took an oath to “do no harm.”  A quick return to “business as usual” seems short-sighted and premature.

We must continue the prevention techniques that are working, such as social distancing and, frankly, distant socializing, in order to optimize our overall daily health.  We must develop real strategies to increase the average person’s access to care, especially those already uninsured or underinsured.  We must educate our communities about when to seek medical care and when to stay at home. 

Finally, we must address the mental health issues that will undoubtedly surface among the front-line responders once this immediate crisis is over. We on the medical front lines are being asked to shelve our personal and emotional lives for the well-being of our patients and our health care system during this pandemic.  We deserve the opportunity to recover, too.

Dr. Suzanne Echemendia-Wirth, MD, is the mother of two.  She practices Emergency Medicine in Mt. Pleasant and Walterboro, SC.