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The Changing Roles of Professionals During COVID-19

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Deborah Morrill is the NP in charge of Women's Health at the Marino Center for Integrative Medicine, a subsidiary of Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her busy practice treats women throughout their lifespan and addresses issues ranging from hormone therapy and menopause to pregnancies, contraception, PMS, and abnormal pap smears. As a holistic practitioner, she also emphasizes nutrition, exercise, and stress management.

With the coronavirus outbreak, the entire center switched its practice to telehealth, but you can't quite perform a pap smear or pelvic examination through cyberspace. That's when Morrill stepped up to take on the role of triaging COVID-19 patients over the phone to help them recover at home.

Once, sometimes twice, a day, Morrill calls each patient to monitor fever, cough, chest tightness, ability to breathe, their GI tract, and sense of smell and taste, in addition to mitigating their fear and exhaustion. Her key concern is checking any change in pulmonary function. If any of her patients are panting heavily, gasping for breath, or having a challenging time walking through rooms while needing to sit or hold on to the wall, she dispatches them to the ER.

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Since there is no evidence-based treatment for COVID-19, Morrill developed a practical-based regimen for patients that replicates in-home respiratory therapy.

Her regimen (which she delightfully refers to as homework) includes staying hydrated with warm fluids including Gatorade; deep-breathing exercises every one to two hours by having her patients filling up their bathrooms with steam from their showers; and advising patients to avoid lying on their backs in order to keep their lungs expanded.

By giving patients this management plan, she empowers her patients to move through the process of recovery and puts them in control.

Everyone is a COVID-19 Health Care Worker

Hadi Galazun, MD, a cardiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, expresses another example of morphing responsibilities: "Last month we were cardiologists, pediatricians, and surgeons. Today, we are all COVID-19 doctors."

Galazun was cheered by colleagues for his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, in which he noted that a few months ago there was no such thing as a COVID doctor and now there are thousands. He likens the pandemic to war and concludes that being redeployed is an honor.

With all amateur and professional sports sidelined during this time, the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit has brought in athletic trainers to support caregivers on the frontline. In Michigan, these highly trained health care providers are licensed through the same governing body that oversees licensing for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, and physical therapists.

By shifting their focus to specific patient and staffing needs, these trainers are taking on responsibilities including COVID-19 health screening for employees and incoming patients, transporting patients to isolation wings, ensuring safety protocols are followed, assisting in emergency rooms and walk-in clinics, and rehabilitating patients with orthopedic injuries who need essential care.

The ACOG Virtual Career Fair provides access to hundreds of incredible jobs and opportunities in obstetrics and gynecology alongside networking opportunities with dozens of top-notch employers. All you have to do is upload your CV and be ready to stand out!

Article Originally Published on ACOG Career Connection