When the Fight Becomes Personal: Physicians Share Their Stories of Contracting COVID-19
There are inherent risks when caring for people who are sick with communicable diseases – risks that physicians take on as part of their duty and calling.
Texas Medicine spoke with three Texas physicians who contracted COVID-19 to learn how the disease affected them physically and impacted their outlook as caregivers.
Read about the impact it had on Ray Callas, MD, Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, and Javier “Jake” Margo Jr., MD.
Helping Kids Through the Chaos of COVID
Recently, a colleague asked Donald Murphey, MD, what his “favorite diseases” were to deal with as a pediatric infectious disease expert.
COVID-19 did not make his list.
The chaos caused by COVID-19 ebbs and flows with each new variant and hit yet another high-water mark with the spread of omicron, he says. While the disease’s effect on individuals remains unpredictable, COVID-19’s impact on the medical world has taken on a dismally predictable rhythm.
Read more about Dr. Murphey's experience.
Finding the Silver Lining Amid COVID’s Mental Health Toll
Tyler pediatrician Valerie Smith, MD, is hard-wired to look at the bright side, even when considering the mental and behavioral health consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“There have been really tangible, good things that have come out of COVID, which has forced us to think about things from a different perspective,” she said. “I always like to find the silver lining.”
Read more about Dr. Smith's experience.
“We Can’t Go Back” to COVID’s Worst Days
Even as much of the crippling fear from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded, its impact persists on El Paso pediatrician Alison Days, MD, her city, her county, and her day-to-day. After the pandemic kicked into gear during early 2020, Dr. Days and her staff at Healthy Days Pediatrics started eating lunch apart from each other. With the virus now less of a terrifying mystery, her staff have gone back to keeping each other company at lunchtime. She still hasn’t.
Read more about Dr. Days' experience.
Educating Residents Through the Pandemic
Before COVID-19 came along, Austin family physician Jonathan MacClements, MD, spent most of his time recruiting residents, training them, and creating more residency spots so there will be more physicians in the future.
Since March 2020 – when COVID-19 first spread in the U.S. – the pandemic has posed one distraction after another to those important tasks, says Dr. MacClements, a consultant to the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education and associate dean and designated institutional official of graduate medical education (GME) at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.
Read more about Dr. MacClements' experience.
Emergency Doc Finds Building Patient Trust More Difficult During COVID
As the COVID-19 pandemic languishes into its third year, physicians continue to bear the brunt of its impact, from unpredictable surges to worsening burnout. Craig Meek, MD, an emergency medicine physician in East Texas and president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians, has observed another more profound effect, which he suspects is changing the profession in irrevocable ways.
Still, Dr. Meek is optimistic that he and his colleagues will be able to reverse course. “It’s a challenge that I know my colleagues will step up to,” he said.
Read more about Dr. Meek's experience.
Cardiologist Experiences COVID – and Its Ripple Effects
Dallas cardiologist Rick Snyder, MD, had already witnessed firsthand many of the big-picture impacts of COVID-19: cases of long COVID, elements of the “Great Resignation,” and of course, the chaos the pandemic brought to just about every medical practice starting two years ago.
But one thing Dr. Snyder was long able to elude – longer than many of his fellow physicians, anyway – was getting the disease himself.
Last New Year’s Eve weekend, that changed. And one of the symptoms he experienced was “the most excruciating pain that I’ve ever had,” said Dr. Snyder, chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Board of Trustees.
Read more about Dr. Snyder's experience.
Responding to COVID’s Many Emergencies
As an emergency physician in the Houston area, Darrell Calderon, MD, has dealt with his fair share of COVID-19 patients. And like other physicians, he had to contend with a steep learning curve when the disease began spreading statewide in March 2020.
Since then, Dr. Calderon and other emergency physicians have become savvier about recognizing how the disease presents and how to treat it. But that knowledge was hard-earned at times.
Read more about Dr. Calderon's experience.
Texas Physicians Reflect on Two Years of Battling COVID-19
Two years ago this week, normal life in Texas stopped. Uncertainty, fear, and anxiety loomed as the new coronavirus, SARS CoV-2, arrived in Texas. Looking back, physicians reflect on the ongoing impact of March 13, 2020, when Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
Nearly 100 Texans already were infected by the virus by that week, and one Texan had died.
AMA Medal of Valor Winner Attributes COVID Successes to Teamwork
Lubbock pulmonary critical care specialist Victor Test, MD, says he was honored – if surprised – to learn in late January that he had received the American Medical Association Medal of Valor.
Dr. Test’s pandemic accomplishments are legion. He helped source personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), where he teaches and practices; took on extra duties and shifts; and served as a principal investigator in a Mayo Clinic-led study of convalescent serum therapy in COVID-19 patients. But he attributes these successes, at least in part, to his colleagues.
Read more about Dr. Test's experience.