This is the continuation of a series of journal entries depicting what it’s like to be a part of the COVID pandemic from the medicine resident perspective.
Tue March 24th 2020
I couldn’t sleep. I knew I would have to get tested in the morning.
I called our occupational health hotline when it opened up and I was instructed to go to the “walk-thru” testing facility that was set up outside in a parking lot adjacent to the hospital. All the staff there were wearing full body suits accompanied by masks, face shields, and bouffants. There were traffic cones strewn about seemingly directing the patients to different locations, various designated lanes for people to register, and about 3 dozen empty folding chairs spaced out to preserve social distancing. There was an ominous large Winnebago covered in sheet metal for some reason, and tents with presumably more staff inside them. Also, there were police officers, about 4 or 5 huddled together but they weren’t directing traffic and I couldn’t surmise what role they could possibly play in all this. Cars making their way along pothole-riddled Sansom street would now slow down to gawk at the impressive sterile facility not only for the sole intention of protecting the integrity of their tires and suspension. As a patient now, I was sitting in one of the empty 36 folding chairs while I waited for my name to be called. Outnumbered about 15 to one by occupational health employees, I could imagine the public believing this was overkill.
I was told I won’t find out the results for three to five days, but there was a rumor about occupational health potentially getting a 24 hour test up and running the following day. I didn’t want to risk being in the same boat again tomorrow so I took the swab today. My name was called, I went to the proper lane then was summoned into one of the tents where the very back of my throat was thoroughly wiped with an elongated Q-tip. Per hospital policy, I was now on mandatory leave to be on quarantine in my home until the results returned.
I called my wife and updated her. I would stay in the bedroom by myself for the next several days, leaving only for bathroom breaks, grab food from the kitchen, and to sanitize anything I touched. If I were to leave the room I had a facemask ready. I didn’t come close to my 7-month-old son, which was probably the hardest part of all this. On my way home I thought about how it felt like the virus had been preoccupying everyone for months but in reality it was only a couple weeks. I was exhausted by it already but this was only the beginning.