The dreaded second wave. How we wished we had avoided it, that Victoria had quietly snuck under the radar and eradicated the virus. But that was never the case, since we consistently experienced low numbers in the community. Except now there are higher rates of community transmission and the burden on our hospitals is readily rising.
For those who don’t know, our state has recorded the highest numbers since the pandemic began. 288 cases on Friday and 216 cases on Saturday. 273 today. These may be low numbers compared to some other countries, but for us, it has been a massive jump that doesn’t seem like its declining. 200 may sound manageable right now, but if it continues to spread it will become uncontrollable. Melbourne has been put into a 6-week lockdown, where we cannot leave our houses unless it is for supplies, work/schooling, exercise and medical care. A major hospital has already reported 8 of its workers testing positive, meaning a large number of employees will have to go into isolation. I wouldn’t say things are looking terribly grim yet, but it’s certainly concerning.
I am definitely closer to the frontline than most, being a final-year medical student on the respiratory team at a central metro hospital. We share the load of COVID patients with the infectious disease team as well as intensive care. I’ll be honest, things have become a little bit tenser in recent days and whilst we’ve consistently had around 3 patients under our team at a given time, we are anticipating an influx of patients over this weekend. 2 of our 3 patients were intubated in ICU last I heard, but not sure what’s happened since. That’s why we’ve been trying to discharge as many people as possible to free up spots for those who will inevitably need it. We also only have a few doses left of remdesivir (the one drug that supposedly has some benefit) that may be able to serve one person. I’m not sure when, or whether new stock will come, but to quote the words of my registrar, “it’ll be first come, first served.” I don’t think we initially intended on covering COVID cases, as it is definitely more of an infectious disease thing, but we are helping out likely because we are the next most relevant speciality. It is also probably because the head of our unit is fascinated by COVID and genuinely seems excited when cases come through the door. He goes to see these patients on his own (sometimes without even telling us) and seems doubly animated when talking about it. He’s quite an elderly gentlemen (mid-70s), so I am a little concerned this continual exposure is going to lead to an unfortunate diagnosis. But it has become a rule for us, that only senior doctors should see COVID patients. Therefore, whilst we always to try to minimise any contact with confirmed cases (negative pressure rooms, speaking through glass or phones connected to the inside), whenever face to face contact is needed it will be done by either a registrar or consultant. As a student, I’m pretty glad to be far away from it all, although if anyone in my team has it then there’s pretty much no hope for me either. But I only have one more week left in this rotation so I’ll be moving on soon!
I did have a tiny, tiny scare a few weeks ago. I was sent down to the emergency to admit a patient into respiratory. Mind you, our ED department has essentially been turned into a coronavirus hot zone. Most of the area is sealed off and you must be in full protective gear before walking in. We did also have 2 workers test positive so I suppose people were even more vigilant. Anyways, back to this patient I saw. His history and CT scan clearly demonstrated a large clot in the lung to be the perpetrator, therefore we all assumed the risk was essentially negligible. I spent a good hour with him, interviewing and examining, and felt pretty good afterwards. I realised a little later his scan also showed bleeding in the lungs, that was reported as “possibly COVID-related”. Now, this was just for precautionary reasons and radiologists always report what they see, therefore it’s very important to fit things into your clinical picture. But I have to admit just the word made me feel slightly uneasy. I wouldn’t say I was anxious, but the thought was there in the back of my mind. His swabs also took forever to come back, therefore it was a few days before I could confidently rule out a possible exposure. In hindsight, it was just me being paranoid, but I suppose you could never be too safe. It does make me wonder how I’d feel properly working during this pandemic, because let’s be honest I don’t think we will have resolved it by January of next year. Should I be resigned to catching it? How scared should I be? Who knows. I suppose I’ll find out once I start!
Anyways, that’s all I wanted to update everyone on. I’m also due to find out which hospital I am going to tomorrow morning, therefore will share once I know! I hope everyone is staying safe and being vigilant, now is not the time to become complacent. Goodnight!