In a KXEO exclusive interview, 2012 graduate of MMA David Weiss shared with us what the situation is in northern California. The interview was done via Facebook Messenger.
WEISS: I live in Northern California. I live in Walnut Creek—30 minutes outside of San Francisco. In California alone there are over 11000 cases noted as of today. In San Francisco alone there have been 450 cases. However I’m not sure how updates or accurate that may be. In Santa Clara county (45 minutes south of San Francisco) they have over 1000 recorded.
KXEO: How long have you been a Respiratory Therapist?
WEISS: Officially a RT for a year.
KXEO: What setting are you in…acute care, long-term care, home health?
WEISS: In the year that I have worked, I have done almost every setting you mentioned above. I currently work for 2 acute care hospitals. One in San Francisco and the other is a Nuero-Trauma hospital in Castro Valley. However as of right now, I’m working mostly in San Francisco because they need more help.
KXEO: If you have had to intubate patients, is COVID 19 making that more difficult due to how the virus is attacking the body? Any tracheal damage or bronchial damage making things more difficult?
WEISS: In the state of California, RTs are not allowed to intubate because of insurance companies paying less for the service. In the hospital setting, it would be the doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant doing it. My job is to assist them with the intubation process by having necessary equipment available to them.
Intubating covid 19 is stressful only because of their circumstance of their acute respiratory disease. However intubating patients has been the same as intubating any other patient. However they require different settings for their respiratory failure on the ventilator. These patients require heavy sedation and paralyzation in order to save their lives. As for tracheal damage, there will always be some damage after they are ready for extubation ( taking out the tube) but that will heal.
KXEO: Are you hearing anything from your colleagues about problems they’ve had, are they short-handed & needing help, that type of thing?
WEISS: Absolutely! I can speak for many of us, we are facing a national shortage of supplies and equipment like the N95 masks and personal protective equipment PPE like the gowns . You go on the internet and search images of China PPE or Italy PPE, then search USA PPE. It’s crazy what the difference is. It’s funny how China, a 2nd world country is handling this compared to the US. They have the supplies and equipment. However we are a 1st world country, I feel we should be better at being able to handle this! This goes on to my second point. We absolutely need to have more staff available for regardless of the shift. Our supervisor understood immediately and asked more of our staff to be available which has helped a lot! It has made our stress levels decrease but it has made us more efficient and effective in being able to provide care for patients.
KXEO: How did you schooling at MMA help you in facing this crisis?
WEISS: I would have to say that the discipline and the structure made me more cool, calm and collected in high emergent situations. I have always been analytical and MMA helped me become more detail oriented.
KXEO: Based on your experience, what should our listeners do besides following the stay at home orders?
WEISS: Listeners, I know that staying home has become horrible and boring. But I’d rather you stay home than stay in a hospital with a tube in your mouth. That sounds aggressive and I apologize. In order to be able to make a difference and combat this, please stop having coronavirus parties, take social distancing seriously (6ft away from each other), invest in a surgical or n95 mask and reuse as needed and lastly 20 second hand washing with soap and water can make a difference. Our healthcare workers on the frontlines need to have these masks gowns etc available to us in order to combat this. If you have any extra PPE please consider donating to a hospital that may be in need!