September 12, 2021

EM Understands: Andrea Green, MD, FACEP (Texas)

"One of the things I'm seeing during this time of the escalation of COVID is that patients are just legitimately scared. Yesterday, I had a patient come into the emergency department who was short of breath, coughing, with the low oxygen level. And this lady was terrified. When we told her she had RSV instead of COVID, she nearly did a happy dance with the oxygen on. She and her husband were hugging each other and just in tears. People are scared.
There's so much misinformation out there to scare patients. And so we as emergency physicians, one of our roles is to be able to help patients understand what COVID is all about, what to expect, what the experience is like. And also to help people understand how to protect themselves and to answer questions so that they can share correct information with their families, with their friends. But in order for us to be able to help our communities and help our patients, we have to help ourselves. We have got to take care of ourselves. 

We are so wrapped up in being there for the patients and being there for our communities. And the amount of dysfunction that we're having to deal with in our emergency departments is causing us more and more stress. But in order for us to get through this, we have got to find ways to decrease the stress that's within our personal lives.
One of the things that I do is go for walks. I go for walks about four times a week. I do about four or five hours each time, but it gives me a chance to just clear my head, just think, just to relax while I’m out there, to enjoy nature and totally forget about the environment of work.
Another thing I like to do are staycations. I'll just watch movies for hours and hours and hours, cook my favorite meal and just sit down and just relax, doing that. 

One of the things you might want to consider is decreasing the amount of shifts you work. I know you’re needed right now, and I know there's a lot to be done, but in order to take care of ourselves, we have to nurture our inner selves. You have to spend time looking at ways to give ourselves space, to just relax, get out of this environment mentally and physically for short periods of time.

So keep doing the great work that you're doing, and years from now, when you look back on COVID, you're going to really appreciate the role that you've played and that's going to be very meaningful to you and to your family. But in the meantime, in order to keep it up, take care of yourself."

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