Daily Camera (Boulder)

Doc­tors, nurses bat­tle skep­tics

- By Heather Hollingswo­rth Health · Medicine · U.S. News · Coronavirus (COVID-19) · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Mission · Kansas · United States of America · Donald Trump · Springfield · Missouri · Springfield · Facebook · Georgia · Augusta University · White House · Montgomery · Rooks County

MIS­SION, Kan. — Treat­ing the sick and dy­ing isn’t even the tough­est part for nurse Amelia Mont­gomery as the coro­n­avirus surges in her cor­ner of red Amer­ica.

It’s deal­ing with pa­tients and rel­a­tives who don’t be­lieve the virus is real, refuse to wear masks and de­mand treat­ments like hy­drox­y­chloro­quine, which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has cham­pi­oned even though ex­perts say it is not ef­fec­tive against the scourge that has killed over 210,000 in the U.S.

Mont­gomery finds her­self, like so many other doc­tors and nurses, in a world where the pol­i­tics of the cri­sis are com­pli­cat­ing treat­ment ef­forts, with some peo­ple even re­sist­ing get­ting tested.

It’s un­clear how Trump’s bout with the virus will af­fect the sit­u­a­tion, but some doc­tors aren’t op­ti­mistic. Af­ter a few days of treat­ment at a mil­i­tary hospi­tal, the pres­i­dent tweeted Mon­day, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dom­i­nate your life. ... I feel bet­ter than I did 20 years ago!”

Af­ter one tough shift in the coro­n­avirus unit at Cox South Hospi­tal in Spring­field, Mo., Mont­gomery went onto Face­book to vent her frus­tra­tions about car­ing for pa­tients who didn’t so­cially dis­tance be­cause they didn’t be­lieve the virus was real. The hospi­tal later shared her post on its web­site.

She com­plained that some peo­ple de­mand the anti-malaria drug hy­drox­y­chloro­quine and think the only pa­tients who get re­ally sick have un­der­ly­ing health prob­lems.

“The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple don’t un­der­stand and can’t pic­ture what we are see­ing. That has been frus­trat­ing for all of us,” Mont­gomery said in an in­ter­view, adding: “It wears.”

Com­bat­ing virus skep­tics is a bat­tle across the coun­try.

In Ge­or­gia, at Au­gusta Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, vis­i­tors have tried to get around the mask re­quire­ment by wear­ing face cov­er­ings made of fish­net and other ma­te­rial with vis­i­ble holes, some­thing the hospi­tal has dubbed “ma­li­cious com­pli­ance.” Peo­ple also have shown up with video cam­eras in an at­tempt to col­lect proof the virus is a hoax, said Dr. Phillip Coule, the health sys­tem’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, who con­tracted the virus in July and has seen two staff mem­bers die.

“Just imag­ine that while you are car­ing for your own staff that are dy­ing from this dis­ease, and while you are try­ing to keep your­self safe, and you are try­ing to keep your fam­ily safe, and you are try­ing to deal with a dis­ease that such lit­tle is known about, and then to have some­body tell you that it is all a hoax af­ter you have been deal­ing with that all day,” he said. “Imag­ine the emo­tional dis­tress that that causes.”

He said most skep­tics — in­clud­ing some who have ar­gued with him on Face­book — are con­verted to be­liev­ers when they get sick them­selves. And he is start­ing to hear fewer peo­ple dis­miss the virus en­tirely since the pres­i­dent was nosed.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that the pres­i­dent has con­tracted the dis­ease, but it is dif­fi­cult for groups who sup­port the pres­i­dent to be out there say­ing it doesn’t ex­ist,” he said.

But he also said he fears peo­ple may draw the wrong les­son about the se­ri­ous­ness of the dis­ease from what hap­pened to Trump: “Peo­ple may ex­trap­o­late that the risk for a 74-year-old is low when the re­al­ity is the risk to a 74-year-old is quite high.”

Dr. Beth Oller, who prac­tices fam­ily medicine with her physi­cian-hus­band in ru­ral Kansas’ Rooks County, isn’t op­ti­mistic the pres­i­dent’s di­ag­no­sis will change much in her com­mu­nity, where cases are on the rise, many re­sist masks, and wed­dings with hun­dreds of guests have been held in re­cent weeks.

“None of the things he did since he had it have helped us a bit, and, if any­thing, would fly in the face of it,” she said, not­ing that the pres­i­dent took his mask off as soon as he re­turned to the White House. “All he did was con­tinue to show peo­ple that the things we are say­ing to do are overblown and an over­re­ac­tion. As a physi­cian, it is so damn frus­trat­ing.”

The is­sue has been a chal­lenge in red states for months. diag

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA