Stephanie doesn’t see healthcare workers as the frontline. She sees them as the last line of defense. “The front line is everyone who is staying at home, who are, as a community, masking when they walk outside for a walk or for grocery shopping. The front line are those who have lost their jobs due to this unprecedented situation. It's parents who are expected to work full-time at home while also homeschooling. Healthcare workers? We are the last line of defense. So everyone at home, they are not bystanders and they are not inconsequential. They have key roles to play that decrease the burden on the healthcare system.”
Even as an experienced physician working in Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, she says she “never expected to add ‘planned for and supported hospital response to a pandemic’ nor ‘supported daily workflow in the epicenter of a pandemic’ to my resume.” This pandemic touches every aspect of her professional life by drastically increasing her work hours in order to safely expand patient capacity while preventing the spread inside the hospital, opening up new COVID units, creating treatment recommendations for patients, and improving morale among a stretched medical staff.
“With respect to the healthcare workers - this pandemic is going to leave scars….The anxiety of colleagues getting sick from one day the next, when you were sitting together or working on the same patients or in the same office day after day...We will get through this. We will be changed, yes. But we will see the other side of this.” The community spirit in her workplace and her city is what fuels her to be able to go to work day after grueling day. It is often dark by the time she returns home so she bought a rowing machine and a bike for exercise and they have been “crucial to my mental health plan for surviving these crazy times.”Stephanie looks forward to a time when she can sit close with friends and family, travel, hug, read for pleasure and get “more than fours hours of sleep a night.” For now, this is her during Covid-19, “shaggy non-existent bangs that are overdue for a cut and me about to get on my rowing machine which is on the floor in my office because I no longer have a gym to go to at night!”