Dr. Otto Marquez, MD, FACEP, FAAEP, Discusses Working in Today’s ER
I’ve been an emergency medicine physician at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas going on 28 years in September. Emergency medicine fits my personality. I work hard, on a variety of shifts—weekends and holidays. This flexibility allows me a good life-work balance. When I am off, I am off—no beeper.
COVID-19 has impacted my life significantly. No time in the past have I ever gone to work thinking I could catch the virus and be dead in three weeks. I was concerned about bringing it home to my wife. A few of my colleagues rented apartments close to the hospital so they would not have to go home and expose their families.
Prior to the pandemic in the ED, we did not have to wear all the PPE as we do now. We had to develop a process for intubation to prevent aerosolization. We also worried that we would not have enough respiratory therapists to run all the ventilators.
COVID-19 has changed our practice in the ED. I wear an N-95 mask with every patient I see. Initially, we communicated with the patient using an iPad.
I think, in the future, we will be more prepared for infectious emergencies; we have an adequate stock of PPE and ventilators now.
This pandemic has helped me appreciate life more. One of our colleagues got COVID early on in the pandemic, last March, and almost died. This really affected me. I appreciate my family more; I have not seen my mother or brothers for over a year. They all live out of town and we do not have family get togethers. I haven’t been to the gym in a year, so I go on more walks with my wife to relax.
While we wait for vaccines to be widely distributed, to ensure the safety of others, non-vaccinated people should be mindful of getting together, washing their hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask.