Healthcare professionals alter home life during COVID-19 crisis

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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The COVID-19 healthcare crisis has changed the way many Troup County residents approach their everyday lives.

Some are fortunate to continue to work, even if it’s inside their home. Some are now asked to be teachers at home in place of teachers with schools in Troup County being canceled for the year of the year. Others are isolating themselves to help stop the spread of the virus altogether.

However, some doctors and nurses are facing the COVID-19 virus every day. Many of those people also have families and must take precautions at the end of their shift to ensure no germs from the hospital make it inside their family home.

Dr. Lavanya Manimaran, a hospitalist at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, understands she has a high-risk of exposure due to her employment. She said that knowledge has caused her to change her lifestyle in the past few weeks.

“At work, I try to clean all my accessories before leaving the office,” she said in an email. “Once reaching home, (I) leave my shoes in the garage, rushing to my personal restroom (and) shower.

She said she washes all of her work clothes every day on sanitize mode.

Manimaran also practices social distancing from her family as much as possible.

“(I) have a 4-year-old who wants to kiss and hug, but staying away from them for weeks is terrible,” she said.

She said she cleans and mops her home several times a week just to provide her peace of mind and that she isn’t exposing anyone in her home.

“So, I strongly request everybody who has been given the chance to stay at home with their loved ones, please stay with them, (and) enjoy every moment with them,” Manimaran said.

Brandi Jones, who lives in LaGrange but works at Eagles Landing Family Practice in Stockbridge as a mammography technologist, said she occasionally comes into contact with positive COVID-19 patients.  

Jones has two children at home, who are separated from their mother some days until she can prepare herself.

“They know if I’ve had one of those days where we come in contact with a patient, they have to stay away from me until I can strip down, throw my clothes in a washing machine and get a shower and clean myself off,” she said.

Jones said several co-workers have similar protocols in place for their own families when they come in contact with a positive patient. She said she is wearing masks at work, and the team is continuously disinfecting the workstations. However, she still takes extra precautions before seeing her children and husband.  

“Once I get home, and I have showered and gotten my clothes off, I really don’t have a lot of fear about it, and that may sound crazy, but I take so many precautions because I am terrified to bring this home to my children,” Jones said.

Dr. Quoc Ngo, a physician at WellStar treating COVID-19 patients, said his job has limited the amount of time he spends with close family.

“Prior to COVID-19, my wife and I used to visit our elderly parents every day, but because of my job, I am considered as high risk,” he said in an email. “We have not seen our parents in three weeks. We rely on video calls to check on their wellbeing.”

Ngo encourages anybody who can spend time at home with their family to make the most of it.

“Unlike me, you have the opportunity to spend quality time with your family,” he said. “You can pull out the puzzle you’ve been wanting to work on or have movie night with the kids. You can also pick up a new hobby, learn a new language or anything else you did not have the time for. This is your time.”

Dr. Shaundre Brown, who is also a hospitalist at WGMC, said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to her she has never faced before.

“I didn’t realize how much I touched my face until I tried to work a shift and focused on not touching my face,” she said in an email. “Many days, I am wearing protective goggles mainly as a reminder to not touch my eyes.”

She said she’s bringing an extra change of clothes to work to limit exposure after she leaves the hospital.

“Many of us are changing clothes before we leave the hospital so that we don’t bring contaminated garments home and to avoid inadvertently infecting our families,” Brown said. “When on the unit with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 patients, I am taking extra precautions to make sure the PPE (personal protective equipment) is put on and taken off appropriately and safely.”