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Doctors reflect on challenges during the past 12 months

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Each year the nation sets aside a day to honor its doctors for their dedication and contributions to society.

In 2021, Doctor’s Day is set for Tuesday, March 30th.

Last March, much of the world was ordered to stay at home—while the marching orders for doctors were pretty much to stay at work.

“Never bargained for this. I mean, you know, you always hear about history and pandemics and things like that. Never really thought that we would see it in my lifetime, but here we are,” said George Kim, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist at St. Joseph Health System’s Mishawaka Medical Center. “Have there been stretches where you’ve been working, you know, seven days in a row with very minimal rest, 12-hour shifts, things like that? Yes.”

“I was scared,” Meredith Wierman, M.D. told 16 News Now. “I will admit I was very scared early on; you know. You hear lots of reports about doctors getting sick and I knew some doctors from around the country, people I had trained with, young people who were very sick with COVID.”

Both doctors say things were at their worst locally in November.

“There were no intensive care unit beds. Emergency departments were full. Hospitals were all at capacity,” recalled Dr. Kim. “There were times where you’re putting people on ventilators. There are times where people are just, you know, kind of crashing before your eyes.”

“There’s a lot to do for each individual patient,” added Dr. Wierman. “Trying to do that high quality of care for each of these patients was really overwhelming and scary for us to try and, you know, maintain some good quality for each of those coronavirus patients that were in the hospital.”

Both doctors Kim and Wierman had parents in the profession. Despite the pandemic, they say they never questioned their chosen occupations.

“I think it is not a job, it’s a passion. I think you have to have, it is a hard job to do. I think you have to have a passion for it, and you have to really want to do it,” said Dr. Wierman.

“I think I can say this for a lot of us. I think we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, as physicians, as providers, as nurses, EMS, I mean, I think we all learned what we’re capable of,” said Dr. Kim.

As for what the future holds, Dr. Wierman sees the vaccine as a turning point. “The coronavirus has thrown us for a few loops, so you never really know for sure what’s going to happen. But ‘m hoping it’s just going to slowly smolder and then kind of burn out.”

Dr. Kim says he is cautiously optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction. I don’t think we’re over the hump yet. I think things are looking great with vaccines rolling out and with our numbers going in the right direction. I don’t think that we’re at the point where we can say that we’re done with this though.”

Both doctors credited teamwork throughout the medical community for the success in battling the virus.

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