Premier Pulse     May 2020

Belcastro_350x350By Marc Belcastro, DO, system chief medical officer, Premier Health

As I contemplated a topic for this month, I knew that writing about COVID-19 was unavoidable. I also recognized that with all the available articles on COVID-19, there was not much new information I could add. Everyone experienced their own individual journey. I decided to share with you my personal journey. A journey that contained fear, loss, courage, support, perseverance, and perspective.

When Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency, my initial reaction was fear. I was not afraid of the virus or becoming ill. As a new system CMO, I was fearful that my decisions as a leader could be less than ideal or even harmful if incorrect. While working through those thoughts, my mother, who lived in Columbus, became ill. While she was not ultimately diagnosed with COVID-19, this diagnosis was ruled out during a time when the testing took some time. We were not able to visit, and I was immediately sensing the emotions that many of our families experience. We ultimately lost our mom, but the health care professionals were caring and compassionate. I recognized how important it was for our teams to show this same care and communication when families are unable to visit. For example, she was cared for by a kind hospitalist who called my sister daily. The nurses remained with my mom until the end and they reassured us that this would happen.

I returned to work with a renewed strength. To deal with fear, I focused on what I knew about this virus and chose not to worry about the unknown or unpredictable. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

By early April, we started preparations for a worst-case scenario, and teams across the system began working on plans for surge, PPE, testing, and a multitude of contingencies. An outbreak at one of our ECFs placed Upper Valley Medical Center as ground zero. I quickly recognized my role must shift to support all of the teams and individuals. I had absolute trust the work was being done well.

The days became long with little time off and being continually reminded that this would be a marathon. Without knowing how long or how extensive our region would experience the impact of the coronavirus, I knew that perseverance would be critical. I focused on what was in front of me each day and maintained healthy rhythms of prayer, journaling, exercise, and nutrition.

At the time of this writing, we are entering the reopening phase and we still face many of the same challenges as well as some new ones. Everything I have learned and experienced on this journey will shape me for not only the next month, but hopefully life.

I know that there have been so many different and difficult journeys for us as individuals and as a medical staff. I would encourage us to not lose the sense of community and coming together for a common goal of providing care for our patients, our staff, our leaders, and one another, long after this pandemic passes.

Back to the May 2020 issue of Premier Pulse

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