Apr 28, 2020
Heroes on the front line: Dr. William Baker
Around the world, health care providers are on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus.
Many are struggling not only to treat a disease with no known treatment, one to which no human has natural immunity. They are also facing an unprecedented global shortage of the masks, gowns and gloves known as personal protective equipment, due to international manufacturing shortfalls in the face of the pandemic. That equipment is essential to preventing health care workers from getting infected themselves and from passing the virus to patients and to their own family members.
Doctors and nurses and physician assistants and other health care workers sign up to work long hours, nights and weeks, away from their families. But never in our lifetime have they been asked to put their own health and their loved ones’ health at such risk.
At Coverage, we are giving Massachusetts doctors, nurses, PAs and NPs a chance to speak to you, our readers, in their own words. We asked that they share their simplest, most urgent messages as they fight this new virus with no vaccine and no cure, a virus vulnerable only to our common human bravery, ingenuity and compassion.
I work shifts in the emergency department. We’re seeing sicker patients, admitting more to the ICU, and a majority of them are COVID-19 patients. It’s not just patients coming in with symptoms of the virus -- we see people come in with stroke, heart attack, and it turns out they have COVID-19. The risk of exposure is high and the consequences are real. We see the seriousness of it. We’re right in front of it. Most of my colleagues have concerns and many of us have high-risk family members. We struggle. I know doctors and nurses who have gone to live elsewhere or sent their children to live with parents or in-laws, and they’re separated from their young children. Most of us have entered this career knowing at times we'd have to take risks. I think that's the core of why we do this. But more than that is a sense of duty to community and colleagues. We support each other. It’s important for everyone to develop an understanding of what we’re dealing with. We're in this for the long haul, but there's still a lot of hope. We're going to have to explore in the coming months how to resume our lives while keeping infection rates down. I think we can.
- Dr. William Baker,
Emergency medicine physician at Boston Medical Center
Vice chair of quality and safety for the emergency department
Father of two college students