Trusted Voices: COVID-19

In their own spoken words, KVH providers share their thoughts about the pandemic in an appeal to family, friends and community this holiday season.

11.20.2020

Dr. Kevin Martin,
Chief Medical Officer

Local impact of COVID
One of the things that has become part of my job over the last eight, nine months is looking at charts of how this has changed over time. We’ve become desensitized to the numbers. In March, if you had said we had 12 new cases in this county in a day, we’d be going sideways. Now we call that ‘Thursday’.

The numbers are worse than they have been since this began. We’re somewhat protected from it in this county. It’s not blowing up quite as much, but we are having more trouble transferring patients out, because the hospitals we sent people to are getting full.

We saw an uptick in our cases around November 5th, right after Halloween.

We know that staying home, staying masked when you’re out is what will keep this in check. And it’s what we have to do for the next few weeks, because if we don’t, we will break the hospitals in the state. It’s not an accident that the hospitals that are hit the worst right now are in Spokane because they’re getting the overflow from Idaho, where there is no masking requirement or request.

Protecting our families
We have to recognize that anybody could be exposed. It’s not as though there’s some magic at home that protects you from the people you live with. All you’re really trying to do is if somebody you live with is positive, you’re trying to keep from sharing that with everybody you love. So we have to keep each other safe. We have to keep each other well. And that means we have to keep each other away.

Thanksgiving is normally our favorite holiday in our household. We’ve had as many as 22 people for Thanksgiving dinner, and we’d love cooking that meal and all of the dishes that always go into it, whether we still like them or not. So the high point of Thanksgiving for my wife and I this year will be that we don’t have to have green bean casserole. We may just have a bowl of ginger pumpkin bisque. We probably aren’t going to make it through a turkey for the two of us, probably don’t need potatoes au gratin, certainly won’t need dressing. Probably no sweet potatoes. And we’ll wish that our five kids were there. But this year it’ll just be the two of us, and for everybody else, if we haven’t learned anything else in the last nine months, we’ve learned how to make video calls.

With vaccines coming, a year from now, we’ll have a very different conversation.

I hope that next year allows us to celebrate together, making it through the last year. And I believe it will. I do think that we’re going to have an opportunity to celebrate when this is over. I think if we can hold on another eight weeks, we’ll really see that we turned a corner. We should start to see the curve flat in the next week or so, because of the changes we’re making now. We can undo that by having our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We can put the people we love in jeopardy by having our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We can put ourselves in jeopardy.

When COVID hits home
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are recovering right now. If this had been a normal year and Thanksgiving had been last week, I probably would have been exposed. They weren’t really symptomatic, until they were. What we do know is that viral shedding peaks a day or so before symptoms start. You’re actually less infectious when you’re severely ill than you were before.

That’s how this spreads.

It would be easy if you didn’t shed virus until you were really sick, we’d know to stay away from it. We would put on all the PPE and protect ourselves from the sickest patients, but they really aren’t the ones that are the most infectious. I learned a couple of days ago that a nurse that I worked with when he was fresh out of nursing school 20 years ago, died last week of COVID. I remember him as being kind of spindly, but the pictures I saw of him he had obviously taken up bodybuilding and was a pretty buff guy in his mid-late forties. And he didn’t respond well to the virus.

Thanksgiving’s gonna suck. Christmas will be different, too. But if we keep taking care of each other, we’ll get through it. We’re doing a better job of that here than most places. If you look at the curves in Franklin, Grant, Pierce, Snohomish, the curves are going straight up and they haven’t shown a sign of peaking, and they are seeing more cases per day in those counties. So our goal is just not to be there, not to be them. Some months ago, [KVH CEO] Julie Petersen said, “This is an awful time to be a hospital. But if you’ve got to be a hospital, you want to be this one.” If you want to be a county, you want to be this one.

We do a good job of taking care of each other, making sacrifices for each other, and this this year, Thanksgiving dinner is one of them.