My experience with COVID has been truly unique. In the beginning of February 2020, I signed my employment contract with Academic Alliance in Dermatology. I started my first day in Tampa on April 13, 2020. Between the contract execution in February and my start date in April, I worried that I would receive an email or phone call from my boss saying he could no longer afford to take me on, or that it would be too risky to hire someone during the beginning of a pandemic. Fortunately, however, that never happened. The slowness at the office secondary to the pandemic actually gave me ample time to catch up on the training required for several research studies my office had running, which were placed on a hold for safety concerns.
Our office thankfully remained open throughout the thick of COVID. We took precautions at our clinic to keep the environment safe for our patients, research subjects, and staff. All patients had temperature checks in order to be seen in the clinic or for research. Waiting room seats were blocked off every other seat, and all visitors had to fill out a COVID questionnaire to verify that they were not experiencing any symptoms. Everyone was required to wear a mask to their appointment (even though most patients pulled it off and would forget to put it back on during their appointment).
At the beginning, our staff would always make sure to wear a mask when in front of patients, but occasionally with each other we would be more lax. A couple of months passed, and AAD began experiencing COVID cases within our staff and even some of our providers got sick. That’s when it was decided that the masks would become required unless you were alone in your office. Period. We could not afford to risk infecting patients, to have the office shut down or for any of us to miss work thanks to COVID.
Now most of us are vaccinated, but not much has changed with the masks. We don’t want to play with fire. We really don’t know yet how much protection the vaccines provide and whether or not we can still spread the virus to others. I have my thoughts and hypotheses, but that is all they are. I don’t mind the mask if it keeps people comfortable and healthy. At the end of the day, I’m just thankful I still have my health, my friends and family, and my employment. I am looking forward to the day when every single person is vaccinated, so we can perhaps live just a little more: More hugs, more shaking hands, more smiling faces.
What has your experience been like during the global pandemic of COVID-19?