Doctor at hospital dedicated to severe COVID-19 cases: 'I’m running on fumes'

Posted at 3:58 PM, Sep 14, 2020

A doctor is opening up about working at one of the first hospitals in the country dedicated solely to treating people with severe cases of COVID-19.

“Hope gave way to frustration as heartwarming images of mutual sacrifice were replaced by images of protest about the sanctity of dining out and getting haircuts,” said Dr. Ben Trappey at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Now, even frustration has given way to bone deep sense of weariness and resignation. I’m running on fumes.”

Trappey spent nearly three months away from his wife, quarantining at a hotel while caring for patients at Bethesda Hospital near Minneapolis.

He destresses through reflective writing and teaches it to other residents and physicians.

His essay “Running on Fumes” was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It reflects how he feels still being on the front lines of COVID-19, but not feeling like the rest of the world is behind him.

“The thing that made me feel most supported early on was just that everybody was making these sacrifices together and now when there are so many people who refuse to acknowledge that a sacrifice even needs to be made is really frustrating,” said Trappey.

He says one of his challenges is not knowing which COVID-19 patients will get better.

Many hospitals have provided support like counseling and buddy systems.

Trappey is now on parental leave at home with his wife and newborn son.

“It’s hard to think about what things will be like as we get further into the fall and we have other respiratory viruses in place as well. It’s pretty worrisome, so I’m just trying not to let myself think too much about that,” said Trappey.

The doctor says he hopes people realize they're not alone in the pandemic.

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