What'S is like to be a doctor during a pandemic? We ask Dr. Roxanna M. Allen

Published on: January 25, 2021

By Juan Garcia-Ruiz

During this time of the pandemic, COVID has affected many people, and the most notable are doctors. They have been affected the most out of this pandemic, by the amount of work they have to do and how it changed their work environment. They have to work harder for the safety of the people and themselves. Here is Dr. Roxanna Allen,to provide her perspective as a doctor that's working a full time job and as a mother during Covid-19. Dr. Roxanna Allen is local pediatrician and is speaking on her own behalf.

DGG: The CA state government recently put the Bay Area in a stay at home order due to the decreasing ICU capacity. Has your ICU numbers gone up recently?

Allen: “They have. We do know. We track our ICU capacity as well our emergency room capacity and our numbers have gone up.”

DGG: To what extent do you think the stay at home order will help mitigate the types of numbers your hospital is seeing today?

Allen: By individual staying at home, basically minimizing gatherings; creating more social distance, not interfacing with individuals that could be potential[ly] infected by COVID, then there’s less transmission of the disease, and thereby we won't see the impact of the illness spread so rapidly. So we can mitigate a little bit more by spreading it less rapidly because now the rates are going so high so quickly, that unfortunately that we’re getting numbers of cases coming in too fast that our ability to take care these individuals is getting more difficult.”

“We just don’t have enough staffing and ICU capacity to take care of these individuals who are so sick at one time.”

DGG: What kind of things did your hospital learn from the previous stay at home orders that you will apply today?

Allen: “We know it helps to mitigate the increase in cases, and when you decrease [the number] of cases, our ICU capacity goes down, which is great.”

“This one the problem is that this stay at home order was unfortunately during the holiday season and unfortunately that people are so tired, i think, of how long this thing has been going on and wanting to get together with their family, that it was really hard for people to avoid family gatherings...that’s why we’re seeing such an increase in COVID cases, because people [have been] unable to stick to the stay-at-home order…”

“Our hope is that we can get people convinced to these actions so that we can start seeing a decrease in the number of cases which will then decrease the number of sick people coming in needing intensive care…”

DGG: What advice do you have for teens and kids to stay safe during this holiday break?

Allen: “ it's a tough time for kids. We realize that kids need and want to engage with their friends and other family members we realize that. It's very hard for mental health for these kids our kids to do this, but if we don’t this cause most of our young adults are the ones being laxidesiel about this so we are really asking adults to really make the efforts to maintain the stay at home order and being social distance and mask and do good hand hygiene...it's them who are generally becoming the ways that people are getting infected when bringing it home so it's not the grandparents it’s not the little kids cause there not in school, it's the young adults or the family members who are in and out of homes getting together with people unfortunately having to go to work in a group settings traveling doing those things where they bring back so if our young adults and older kids can really make the effort of reminding themselves and their family members and their friends to stay at home and socially distance and use mask which can make a big impact.

Take care of yourselves get some exercise get some fresh air go outside, take care of your body and mind because we realize that there's a huge impact on the mental impact of our kids and so we do want them to not just stay in the bedrooms or stay on the screen all day long we want you guys to take a mental break get some fresh air, get some exercise make the most of what you can with your household or virtual with your friends or family.”

DGG: Can you explain the plan for the 1,000 Covid vaccines that Kaiser is going to distribute to it’s healthcare workers?

Allen: “So we started to already vaccine our health workers. We received our set of vaccines 3 weeks ago. I was actually one of the first ones too. I'm going to get my booster tomorrow. So the priority was health care worker and we been doing a great job at distributing for most of the health care workers and staff at this point the second priority is going to shift to the general public and the priority there is going to be individuals older than 75 and essential workers who deal with food, grocery, teacher education child care and first responders, so that is the priority of the next step in distributing the vaccine and were already starting to create or work close to that starting next week, we got two versions of the vaccine we got the Pfizer and we got the Moderna which are both very efficacious and we are super excited about it and we are promoting it as much as we can that if your offered it to please get it. The only limitation is that its approved for 18 and older but the youngest is 16 and older for pediatrics there is a limitation we haven't had enough trials to do the younger kids but it should come later in the year.”

DGG: What types of challenges are you facing due to this pandemic personally?

Allen:“First of all it created a job shift in how we manage our patients so we had to rearrange on how we take care of our patients which is good and bad we are doing a lot more of virtual medicine which I think for the future that's going to be a plus for a lot of families but it's taken away that engagement and connection with our families as well being in front of a parent and patient is way different than being on a video so we had to really up our skills and how to decide when a kid needs to come in for sure versus to just stay at home so we gotten creative that way. Two we also changed on how we interacted amongst ourselves and staffine and our providers.

we’re tired because we are working harder and we are having to being asked to do more of ourselves in other ways to support our ER and ICU so were also having to also step up and take care of our patients...

...Personally I have two kids which are in elementary school and there not in school so there at home and I’m a full time working mom and I’m a single mom so I depend on my nanny and I depend on others to help me with health care and thats been a strain and I thank for them because they're missing there friend and they're missing the interaction and they're not really getting the education i think they were getting before but we're trying our best so personally it's been difficult on those ends. Mentally we've had ups and downs throughout all of this and I luckily have created good support networks and I exercise, I try to keep that up so I can stay strong and be healthy as much as I can, it's been challenging in different ways but it’s also been very good and really reflecting what this year has brought its not just covid it's also been social injustice there's the political environment so many things this last year has really made us relook and I appreciate that and I’m very thankful for having a job and a healthy family good friends and people I can connect with. so I think this is really just been eye opening for many ways and I definitely don't feel completely this is all negative there's been positivity for sure.

...I don't expect to be thanked for what I do, I love what I do and I do it out of my heart and it’s always what I wanted to do this purpose but its very nice to be appreciated in some ways and a lot of ways I’ve had a lot of kudos and appreciations and good heartfelt thanks sent my way from families and I’m really really am grateful for that.”

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Juan Garcia ruiz