Rumors have been bubbling on social media about the next wave of COVID-19, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what it’s already doing, what it might do.
As if it ever really went away.
Parts of the country are just starting to see the intense level of activity that we went through here in New York City earlier this year, and after a possibly deceptive lull, people I follow on social media have started talking about little upticks right here in admissions to the ICU, and patients in the ER, and even community-based patients testing positive in greater numbers than we’ve been seeing.
Over the past few weeks, at our institution like I’m sure at many others, we’ve had a bunch of committees and workgroups and task force meetings talking about planning for the next surge, what are we going to do if flu hits bad, what if it’s a bad flu season combined with COVID-19, how will we respond, where will we put patients, will we have to shut down again.
So much depends on doing this right.
We’ve set up a bunch of parameters to screen for, including data locally as well as from the city and state about rising rates in the community and in hospital admissions, but it seems like we can sense it coming over the horizon before all of these markers are going to light up.
I’m not saying that tomorrow morning we need to shut everything down again, go back to our dedicated Cough, Cold and Fever clinic model utilizing half of our practice for COVID-19 and keeping nonemergent patients at bay.
But it would be nice to know that we will have plenty of PPE, plenty of capacity in the lab, plenty of swabs, and lines of communication set up across all the players in the game and plans of action ready to go.
And people. More than anything else we need people.
A lot of people.
We’re still operating with skeleton crews, people working at home for multiple reasons, including health and family reasons, and people who’ve taken early buyouts and retirements and so many other more.
Can we really say that we’re ready to face an onslaught like we saw in March and April and May and June and July, and what if we add in influenza and RSV and who knows what else?
During the peak of the last pandemic, all of our colleagues did whatever they needed to do, answered the call, stood and fought at the front lines, took care of the taking care of.
And will do it again.
But now is when we need to know that everybody’s ready, that we’ll have all the resources we need, that we won’t have to beg for the necessary equipment and space and people to keep our staff and our patients safe, and get through whatever the next crisis may be.
If this happens, if a second surge comes, I know we’re not ready from a public health standpoint, that all of the necessary build of truly effective planning and surveillance and monitoring and contact tracing systems are not there.
And support for patients who need to be in isolation, who need to keep their jobs and their kids safely in schools, and alternate methods to keep our city moving, are definitely not ready to go.
But we must have learned some lessons, there must be something more than just getting us to switch back into combat mode and suit up up for the coming onslaught.
Alarm bells should be ringing, and people need to listen to them, and those that have the power to make these things happen should be setting things in motion to the point where we’re impressed as hell when we turn and ask for something and find that it’s already there.
And then some.
Don’t disappoint us, don’t leave us hanging, don’t expect us to keep doing more with less.
I know this needs to come from all of our institutions, as well as the city, the state, and the federal government, but it’s the responsible thing to do, the way to respond to an emergency, the way to make sure we do it better than we did last time, even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s not the way we envision it should be when we do finally get to that perfect place.
So, let’s listen to the grumblings, the rumblings, let’s pay attention to the Twittersphere, the Google searches, the Facebook groups murmuring and wondering, and what we’re hearing in the hallways and from our colleagues across the street, around the city, across the country, and overseas.
If not, we run the risk of being back where we started, forced to slog ahead with so much less than what we need to get the job done right.
And I know we’re better than that.
Last Updated September 28, 2020