Updated: Aug 26, 2020
By Will Robertson, Associate Editor
Will Robertson: How specifically have you dealt with COVID-19 through your job?
Wesley Robertson: I am one of a group of five doctors who take care of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. We have tried to limit exposure to these patients in our hospital by our providers, so we have a small group that takes care of all positive cases. I serve as a reference for other MDs regarding COVID-19 questions, specifically testing and treatment, and often take calls into the evening in that regard. I am also on a COVID-19 task force along with several infectious disease doctors, a pharmacist, a pathologist—responsible for coordinating testing—, and an intensivist, who help guide the hospital regarding COVID-19.
Will: What is something you think people ought to know about COVID-19?
Wesley: It is a fascinating illness that is quite unpredictable in whom it impacts and to what degree. In my experience the people that end up in the hospital usually have extensive viral exposure—not just a brief encounter—like many spouses, children and their parents, patients from congregate settings like prisons, immigrants in detention centers, and people in nursing homes. These are mostly people that have extensive exposure.
COVID-19 is also fascinating because when people get really sick, their health doesn’t typically deteriorate until 8-12 days into the illness, which is unusual for a viral illness.
Will: How has this affected your family or the way you interact with your family?
Wesley: It has had a huge impact on my family, since all three of my children were previously away at school but had to stay at home during the spring. While it’s been great to have kids at home, it’s been tough on them because we have tried to adhere to recommendations regarding social distancing and masks, unlike many in our community, so they have been stir-crazy often.
One cool thing is that we have all become better cooks, since we previously used to eat out a lot. Each of us takes a turn cooking on a day of the week.
When I do work, I wear fresh scrubs each day and change into new scrubs before I come home. Once home, I change out of scrubs before going into the house. Then I go straight to the shower before interacting with any family.
My wife and I had to quarantine at one point after an inadvertent exposure at work early on.
Will: What long term effects of COVID-19 do you foresee?
Wesley: I expect to see a politicization of medicine, which is unfortunate and doubtfully reversible. Hopefully, we’ll see the elimination of the handshake as a social custom!
Will: How has the pandemic affected your lifestyle?
Wesley: I normally play soccer on a team several seasons out of the year, which has been put on hold. It’s been tough because that’s a great physical outlet for me. However, I’m hiking a lot more with my kids, which I enjoy. I don’t eat out much anymore, which I previously used to do a lot. Instead, I find myself cooking a lot, which is cool. Finally, for obvious reasons, I’m not as social as I used to be.
Will: What is something that troubles you about COVID-19?
Wesley: A large majority of people that I’m treating in the hospital, at least 50%, are prison inmates or from detention centers. This shows a real weakness in our prison systems’ response to COVID-19, as the people within are being subjected to the virus with inexcusably modest precautions taken.