Doctor On Frontline Of Pandemic

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Dr. David Hill at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut. 

   Dr. David Hill is a pulmonary and critical care physician treating COVID-19 patients at Waterbury Hospital. Dr. Hill is the Director of Clinical Research at Waterbury Pulmonary Associates and has been quoted in Time Magazine and the New York Times during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hill wrote this brilliant Facebook post Saturday night (April 18th) at 10:00 PM, and it was shared more than 2000 times. We picked up his post and published it on The Waterbury Observer Facebook page and it was shared an additional 11,000 times and reached 750,000 people around the world, including France and Spain and all across America. The power of social media in action. His observations are illuminating, and his message is as sharp as an ice pick. Buckle up, Dr. Hill is going to take you on a ride to the front lines ...

   "Day 6/7 done in my ICU. This has been the longest week of my ICU career and I still have one day to go. I have not worked less than 13 hours any of these days. Add to that the fact that one of my partners is working by my side for the same length of time and a 3rd partner is seeing a handful of ICU patients in our satellite COVID ICU and you get the idea of the volume.

   I am seeing about 15 patients daily most of whom are COVID positive and many of whom are on ventilators. They are mainly older and sicker, but I personally have taken care of patients in their 30s to 50s this week who are critically ill and have no preexisting conditions. Their critical illness is prolonged with improvements and frustrating setbacks. Those that survive will face a prolonged road to recovery and some will likely never return to their baseline.

   News reports note that hospitalizations in CT have peaked. They have not yet peaked in Waterbury. We are probably a week or two behind the more populated Fairfield County which surged earlier.

   Our staff is absolutely incredible. They are taking on the extra work load and handling the largest volume of overwhelmingly ill patients we have ever seen in circumstances made difficult by the isolation requirements and by rules which keep families out of our unit.

   We are all practicing some form of distancing from our loved ones at home whether staying away from each other, or sleeping in separate rooms, or sleeping in entirely different places. It adds to the stress. We have not been able to save everyone. It is never easy to lose a patient and particularly painful to lose patients to an epidemic that could have been reduced by early action.

   As I have struggled through this week, I return home to news reports of people protesting to be allowed to reduce physical distancing and "resume their lives." This ignorance is being cheered on by a segment of people and media who value money over human life.

   It is the diabolical opposite of what my colleagues and I on the front line are doing.

   As we struggle to save lives, sacrifice our own safety, and urge the community to do all in their power to continue flattening the curve there is an insidious messaging campaign calling social distancing a new form of political correctness, socialism, or communism. The risk and cost of COVID-19 is not just in death. Death is the tip of the iceberg. Those that survive hospitalization and particularly critical care will need tremendous rehabilitation. The personal and societal costs will be huge. Opening up too soon will only compound these costs.

   Public health may indeed be socialist if you believe that any money spent by a government to help its people and prevent premature mortality is socialist.

   If you value the lives of your loved ones, you will ignore the ignorant messaging. People who are protesting their "right" to gather en masse or who are going to beaches in Florida will be the next wave of people spreading this virus to innocents and wondering why they are in my ICU on a ventilator being cared for by nurses and doctors who will do their very best to prevent them from dying despite the poor life choices they have made. That is what we do.

   If you value life and value what we do, you will Stay Home, Stay Healthy, and Save Lives."