ABPS Diplomate William Garrity, MD, Explains What It Is Like Being on the Frontlines of COVID-19
William Garrity, MD, a family medicine physician and Diplomate of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), says there is good news to report from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic: Although the United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, we also lead the world in research that can slow the spread of the disease.
Dr. Garrity admits that the road ahead is challenging, but “by studying and interpreting what we know of COVID-19 CoV there should be proportionately more hope than fear.”
One of the greatest fears of people infected with COVID-19 is the fear of dying. He says that’s why it’s important to understand that the coronavirus risk calculation for dying is a dependent variable—not fixed. In some cases, the significant nonfatal consequences of the infection are associated with underlying conditions such as allergies, asthma, and COPD and are not necessarily symptoms of the disease.
“Seeing so many of my patients petrified and suffering but holding onto hope is amazing,” Dr. Garrity says.
For medical care providers, shortages of personal protective equipment continue to be a problem. Dr. Garrity estimates that 90% of medical care workers still can’t get the PPE supplies they need. Fortunately, he says, patients have given him supplies. “Their homemade masks, along with toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, and sanitizers have sustained me,” he said.
Dr. Garrity still works on-site because telemedicine is not completely adequate in many cases, especially when a patient’s survival depends on admission to the hospital. “I have tents I bought at Costco to meet my patients in the parking lot who are symptomatic,” he says.
He requested tents from local and federal sources but received no reply. He asked for a loan and also received no reply. But Dr. Garrity remains undeterred in his efforts to help overcome the pandemic.
“Struggle is not unfamiliar to most doctors like me who are members of the ABPS,” he says. “I take my hat off to my colleagues. Their contributions reflect their high level of training and the stringent standards of the ABPS. These doctors deserve to be called certified physician specialists.”
But his real heroes are his patients—like mothers who, instead of fearing for their health, worry about who will care for their children. This pandemic has revealed, Dr. Garrity says, that practicing family medicine is exactly what it ought to be—caring for families.