The Women On the Frontlines Fighting the Coronavirus

The Women always focuses on the contributions and accomplishments of women in various fields, and right now, our host Rose Reid is focusing on the women who are on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus, and trying to keep people healthy and safe from this pandemic. On this episode, she speaks with Dr. Antoinette Ward, who’s in charge of testing at a major hospital in Atlanta. When the virus started to spread, she managed to build a triage clinic for COVID-19 testing in less than 48 hours. She tells Rose about their new protocols and practices, what her team is prepared for, and how she keeps herself and her staff safe and sane.

She tells Rose that her triage clinic is seeing close to 10,000 patients a week, and the number is “changing daily.” The hard part is determining who needs immediate care and testing, and who is there because they’d been exposed at some point but aren’t showing any symptoms. With a shortage of equipment and tests, it’s important to prioritize. “Who do we need to take care of first?” Dr. Ward says. “How do we take care of them? How do we keep ourselves safe?” And it’s not like asymptomatic people can be ignored; she points out that many people flew home to America from affected countries like Italy, and “many did come home with upper respiratory symptoms,” she says. “We’re very behind the eight far as testing these patients.” 

She describes their new protective protocols, from wearing two gowns and two masks to wearing and changing gloves constantly, washing hands between every task; patients are given a mask as soon as they approach the building. It’s a team effort, she says, telling Rose that the president of their division has been in the clinic running errands and checking patients in and out, anything to help move through the growing number of people. But the tests and the testing results are not easy to get. “Our biggest fear is what happens when we run out and we’re waiting for more,” she says. What’s more, when they do test someone, they have to check with the state to see if they’ve run it and what the results might be, so “no matter how efficient we are, we’re still at someone else’s mercy,” she says. 

Still, she tries to keep it light; she says she listens to Stevie Wonder to boost her mood, and encourages us to connect. “We have to practice social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to each other,” she says. “It’s all about love right now. We have to absolutely spread love...we will get through this.” Hear more from the healthcare providers who are working around the clock to fight this virus on this episode of The Women.

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