The marathon continues for healthcare workers as the country enters into another month of the pandemic. Burnout is already a concern for physicians, but adding the stress of a novel coronavirus, doctors are leaning on one another to help cope with the stress.
“I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling mentally exhausted most days, by the time I get home," Dr. Diane Arnaout, a pediatrician with Cook Children's Forest Park Office in Fort Worth. "We're getting asked more questions than ever, and people come to us for guidance, for help and for comfort and sometimes that's not been very easy to give here lately, especially with so many unknowns with this virus."
She said in the last two to three weeks, the number of children who have come in for positive results for COVID-19 has "skyrocketed."
"We were seeing maybe one a week, now we are seeing five or six patients a day," Arnaout explained. "For the most part, kids are having pretty mild symptoms, which has been encouraging. I tend to worry more honestly about the adults in their lives than the children, however, some children do get severely affected. Thankfully that's really rare."
While she's concerned for her patients, she's also concerned about her office and her own family as she manages to help the sick and try and stop the spread.
"I have the same concerns as everybody else. I'm a mom and I am worried about my kid's grandparents and I am worried about my children, I'm worried about my children's teachers. I am worried about my children's development and education," she said.
Arnaout said during this time, she's noticed doctors embracing each other to talk more and unite.
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"I think one of the very few silver linings to all this is that COVID-19 has brought physicians out of the woodwork when it comes to social media and communicating," she said. "These are doctors from all over the world coming together to help each other and to educate each other because we have to remember, this is something so new to us. I could sit here all day long and tell you all the facts I know about influenza, but we have such a small amount of knowledge about the coronavirus."
Arnaout has always been active on social media platforms like Facebook.
At Cook Children's, physicians have had weekly Zoom meetings known as "coffee talks" according to Arnaout.
"It's been really nice to get to know my colleagues better and to bounce ideas off them on how to stay safe and how to treat children. It's been on of the few silver linings is communication is really built up between physicians."
She said the camaraderie and support have been great and talking to one another.
But even still, it can be challenging to not have all the answers during a pandemic.
"It weighs on your heart. You want to tell them the right answer, but sometimes you don't know the right answer. And that's frustrating for doctors we are typically, you know, 'Type A' people who like to have all of our facts in line and like to know all the answers. It’s hard. It's been very hard," Arnaout said.