Janik: A scary time for medical professionals and their families


I’m scared. This time it’s personal.

My daughter, Dr. Tracey, is a neurologist at a community hospital near Boston. She is on call today. Her shift started this morning.

She will be visiting the bedside patients admitted to the hospital for the next 24 hours with neurological issues --- especially stroke and seizure disorders.

The N95 masks are in short supply and under lock and key. She has received lengthy emails from corporate headquarters, hospital administration and her chief, with instructions that are often contradictory.

She has a full office patient load as well. Time to care for inpatients, see office patients and sort through the incessant precautionary emails, is in short supply.

A warning was also sent out that if there is a shortage of physicians on the floor, the on-call neurologist would be expected to take over floor duties along with other staff --- as if there isn’t enough stress to survive.

The concerning issue last night was how to do an appropriate evaluation of a stroke victim while keeping them safe from COVID exposure. Someone suggested skipping the stroke evaluation and sending the patient to the main hospital in Boston. She vigorously objected saying this was not safe for the patient.

Time is of the essence in treating stroke patients. The majority of staff in her department agreed with her and now an appropriate protocol has been outlined.

The hospital does have patients who are infected with COVID 19.

Massachusetts is No. 5 in the nation with 256 cases as of today. Total number of infected patients at her facility and their location is not available to the staff. So, there is some mystery as to who is infected.

Except for a small red box added to the front of the chart of each COVID 19 infected patient, there is no warning what a caregiver might be encountering.

All staff received a video yesterday of the coronavirus universal precautions for healthcare workers. Viewing this is mandatory. According to CDC, most frequent transmission mechanism for healthcare workers appears to occur during the removal of protective garb.

Makes sense, the providers are hot and tired and want to remove protective covering, cool down, and move on to their next task.

Her day will end late in the evening, usually after her two young sons and husband are asleep. Hopefully she’ll return virus free.

I ask all of you to do your best to stop the spread. Please follow CDC guidelines.

I want my daughter to stay healthy so she can continue to treat patients.


  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact --- social distancing
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Editor’s Note: Betty Janik is a Scottsdale resident