Operating as usual
Thank you #maskupsa #wearamasksa #slowthespread
When we say "Wear a Mask", you put the mask on not for you but for the sake of your loved ones & your community. When we say, "Avoid gatherings," that is because anyone you're gathering with, that's not part of your immediate a household, is a potential risk.
I'm sharing my personal experience with you to shed light on the reality of COVID-19.
Three weeks ago, COVID-19 hit close to home as both of my parents, who live in the Rio Grande Valley, tested positive for COVID-19. My mom had mild symptoms; she thought it was allergies. While my Dad had moderate symptoms & three hospital stays. I'm thankful to share my mom's symptoms are pretty much nonexistent. And my Dad is home, making fast improvements each day. With one week left on their quarantine, we hope they make a full recovery.
Texas has seen an increase in positive cases, hospitalizations & deaths. In SA, we've seen a rise of people my age in the ICU.
In the RGV, we've seen hospitals at full capacity, & testing sites filled with lines starting at 4:00 am. ( A backlog took my mom 10-days to find out.) I'm also part of a Facebook group where 27 THOUSAND RGV residents share their experiences- it is heartbreaking. Our South Texas Communities are HURTING.
Just yesterday, refrigerated trailers arrived in SA as COVID-19 deaths rise.
I share all of this because of the influence I have to amplify this message: Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash Your Hands. If it's possible, stay home. Avoid gatherings.
I still see so many on social media gathering with people outside of their immediate household for birthdays and other occasions- also see many take photos side-by-side those without a mask. Like my friend Amanda said, "Thanks for letting us have a recent photo for your memorial."
It sucks not to be together for all of these special moments, but the best gift you can give to anyone RIGHT NOW is the chance at another year of life. Don't gather until it is SAFE to gather again.
Be a responsible member of society. Together we can slow the spread.
Please continue to pray for me, my hubby and my parents.
Te Quiero Mucho SA & RGV 😘
#InThisTogether #WearAMaskSA #whyiwearamasksa #SlowTheSpread
An important message from Little Joe Hernandez, a San Antonio icon, about Covid-19. #maskupsa, #wearamasksa, #slowthespread
"It's not just about you, but those around you. Your family, your friends, your loved ones. You have to protect yourself to protect others."
Join me in sending prayers to Little Joe for a speedy recovery from COVID-19. San Antonio's with you!
Little Joe Y La Familia
Mayor Ron and Coach Pop team up to encourage our community to wear a mask to slow the spread of Covid in San Antonio. #maskupsa.
With teamwork, we will defeat this virus.
Mask up, San Antonio. Thanks, Coach!
Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics
Hero Beyond the Mask: Dr. Tim Vu
As an emergency medicine doctor and as the medical director for Complete Care – a freestanding emergency medical center in San Antonio with six facilities – I wear a lot of a hats, from employer and small business owner to health care provider and team leader. I take my job with my medical team very seriously, and morale is a big priority. You have to keep morale as a priority, connect with the people you work with, address people’s fears, be vulnerable and share your fears and insecurities, and look for the humorous moments. Other critical keys to success in what I do and in keeping that morale up are communication and planning. Every day, we do a team huddle where everyone – the nurses, doctors, X-ray techs, front desk staff, and more – gets together, and we talk about everything, from what’s good on Netflix and good take-out menus to what the current state of COVID testing in our facilities is, how we are educating our patients, and the current levels of our personal protective and other equipment. We also began planning for COVID as early as late January and began collaborating with others to prepare as best we could. By taking steps like these, I help reassure my people. I’m proud to be a good role model to both my staff and my kids, and they inspire me in return.
In addition to the above, we take COVID very seriously and ensure safety for ourselves, our patients, and our families. To do so, we wear masks for every patient, wash our hands before and after each exam in front of the patient, and verbalize what we do for our patients’ understanding. Sometimes kids are frightened, so I pull out balloons from my lab coat, connect them to the air in the wall, and make animals for them like turtles or dogs and draw faces on them. The kids’ eyes light up, and this gives me instant credibility with them so I can do a good exam. At home, to decrease the risk of COVID to my family, I change my clothes in the garage and put them straight into the wash. Additionally, we are now utilizing delivery services like Hello Fresh, where we can get ingredients and a recipe to make meals at home without having to go to the grocery store, as well as restaurant take-out family-of-four meals. We are also staying at home and not seeing friends.
Although we currently are physically distancing due to COVID, we are not mentally distancing, and we are still staying connected with family and friends such as through phone and work. I am grateful to spend more time together with my immediate family, and it makes me wonder what we were doing before. To cope with the stress and to stay well, my family and I have been doing things we never really did before, like playing old-school games like Battleship and jigsaw puzzles, as well as going outdoors for walks around our neighborhood. My two daughters have also picked up their game, accepted this, and grown very academically responsible during this time. Beyond those, I find it really helpful to share ideas, day-to-day life, and other stress management techniques with other people to stay well. I also find checklists and distractions to be helpful. If I feel overwhelmed, I don’t keep plugging away; I step away to take a break and to recharge. Additionally, I compartmentalize things so that I don’t remain stressed all the time.
I am really grateful for my family, my health, the humanity I see, the community coming together, and to everyone who has donated their time and energy to help. These people really inspire me. For instance, a group of community member volunteers got in touch with me through Budmen Industries to help with the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage, and two members who had 3D printers made face shields out of transparency film that was used for writing on old overhead projectors and donated boxes of them to me. That was eye-opening. Additionally, the Vietnamese community has donated masks to us and to the Bexar County Medical Society, and many companies such as Starbucks are supporting first responders and health care providers. A lot of people have stepped up and contributed when they didn’t have to.
Post-COVID, I am hopeful we continue to see the silver linings and positivity that come out of this, we remain connected and healthy, and we remember the difference between wanting and needing things. Even when we go back to our smart phones and fast cars, we need to remember that people make the ultimate difference. For the young physicians out there, don’t get discouraged by a lot of the things you hear about our career. A lot of doctors out here still enjoy what we do, and it is a privilege to be invited into people’s lives, where we can make a difference. There are a lot of silver linings, as well as stress and fear right now, and it is okay to struggle with it and acknowledge that exists. It is a good thing you are doing – keep it up. For all of us, remember these feelings are not just unique to you – we are all feeling some levels of fear and anxiety, and this will end at some point. In the meantime, don’t feel alone. Finally, just remember to be grateful and to think about what you can do to help others.
Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics
Heroes Beyond the Mask: Austin Cooperrider and Masks For Docs:
We are Masks for Docs, a global not-for-profit organization that makes and provides personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to doctors, nurses, and first responders during this COVID crisis. We are an international organization spanning 100 chapters on six continents with over 5,000 volunteers. There are approximately 15 volunteers here in San Antonio. We are proud to say that in the past two months since we originated in March, we have produced over 2,000 face shields, as well as hundreds of ear savers for face masks at home on our 3D printers. Our partnership with the Bexar County Medical Society (BCMS) and Student Alliance For Emergency Response (SAFER), has helped us deliver and provide PPE to over 150 different health care and military facilities in San Antonio! If any health care provider or health care facility asks for help, we step up and help them.
How did we do this? Many of our volunteers, like me, have 3D printers that we previously used for our hobbies, such as making models to paint or other knick-knacks. Some have even halted their business production printing to help. With the COVID crisis, we have converted these 3D printers to run continuously to make the headband frame of the face shield. It takes about 1.5 hours to print two frames for shields. We then hole-punch clear binding covers and round off the corners so they don’t poke anyone. Adding the covers to the prongs on the frames makes a completed face shield. Finally, rubber bands or strings can be added to tighten the face shields so that they can fit a variety of head sizes. Importantly, we do want to point out the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved these for medical use. In fact, the NIH has an entire section on its website containing the open source-approved 3D print designs so that anyone can make them. Furthermore, our face shields are reusable, with the plastic able to handle heat sterilization up to 100 degrees Celsius, as well as isopropyl sterilization. Thus far, our main sources of donations have been a local church in our community, our members’ individual pockets, and our national Masks for Docs organization.
I am so proud of and inspired by my team and all the hard work our volunteers have put in; the massive numbers of shields produced; and the impact that they have had on our San Antonio community. To put this accomplishment into perspective, I work full time as a member of the Air Force, maintaining readiness and ensuring everyone in my unit is doing well, while volunteering what feels like a full work week on making, picking up, packing, and delivering PPE. Just to keep a printer running – it constantly needs attention every hour and a half, and our volunteers do this mostly all day.
Besides helping our community to stay safe, we have adapted to stay safe and well ourselves. For instance, we wipe down everything from the outside before it comes into our homes and try to do grocery delivery or curbside pick-up. We are also staying at home so we can keep ourselves, as well as our community, safe and healthy. Beyond that, we cope with stress in a number of ways. Personally, when I am stressed out, I acknowledge the stress – I don’t bottle it up – and I set everything down, take some me time and play a game or watch some TV with my family. Furthermore, we have found that keeping routines, eating dinner, talking on the phone or on Facebook with our families, watching comedy shows on YouTube, and going outdoors to enjoy the sunlight has helped with staying focused in the moment with our families.
Overall, we are grateful that we are being of help. We realize that we are in an environment and under circumstances that make a lot people feel useless, and having this opportunity to volunteer is an outlet for us to make an impact. If, you too, are interested in volunteering and helping, you can visit masksfordocs.com to get in touch with us. You can also buy your own 3D printer for around $250, and we will help get you up and running. Additionally, we and the Bexar County Medical Society also have a need for people who are interested in sewing hairnets. Beyond that, we also want to acknowledge, there are all sorts of grassroot 3D printer volunteers out there. This is a team effort, and Masks for Docs just happens to be holding its banner the highest.
Post-COVID, we are hopeful that this sense of community that is out there right now stays. We are also hopeful that the lessons learned from this pandemic will improve us. Remember in these difficult times to stay at home to take care of yourself, the people around you, and your community as well as to practice self care. I tend to think I am a good person and I care for my community. I feel I need to do this because I wouldn’t be the person I said I am if I don’t. The bottom line is I want to take care of people. We want to take care of people. We all find ourselves in our own personal battles, and sometimes you have the right skillset and you can take charge, and other times, you have to stay on the sidelines and help where you can. Everyone finds their niche, and we found ours in 3D printing.
Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics
Heroes Beyond the Mask: Student Alliance For Emergency Response (SAFER)
We are the Student Alliance For Emergency Response (SAFER).
First and foremost, we are a group of around 80 community members and health care students in partnership with the Bear County Medical Society (BCMS) who have stepped up and come together during these uncertain times to help our San Antonio community. Together, we cover a number of roles, including advocating for, accounting for, packaging, coordinating, and delivering PPE (personal protective equipment) to over 6,000 health care personnel of primary care clinics, urgent cares, stand-alone emergency centers, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs, which have Medicare and Medicaid patients) and other physician clinics such as specialty clinics both in San Antonio and nearby areas including Comal and Victoria. Of note, all of these health care providers receive our lifesaving services free-of-cost – PPE shouldn’t be insanely expensive or unattainable. Thus far, as of mid-May and in the past six weeks, we have delivered over 60,000 face masks, including N95s, and tens of thousands of other PPE such as hand sanitizer, goggles, gloves, and coveralls to our San Antonio health care community. Oftentimes, due to our great student volunteers, we are able to deliver PPE quickly to those health care providers in need, and sometimes even the same day! These health care providers are so thankful and often ask us who we work for – we just tell them we are part of the community and here to serve.
We feel that this project has been a real success. However, this has truly been a group effort, and we are so appreciative to our community partners and donors of PPE, including Moore Er****on LP and the construction community, Masks for Docs, Print the Curve Flat, Garrison Brothers Distillery, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Vietnamese community of San Antonio. It is so rewarding to help our health care community together and to see where this PPE goes. There was a need, and we stepped up to the challenge. We are so proud of our San Antonio community and how everyone is working together to combat COVID. They really are inspiring. Tomorrow’s leaders are here today. They are smart. They are caring. They are dedicated. It is also powerful to see our fellow colleagues shine on a daily basis and, truly, there is nowhere else in the world we would rather be during COVID than right here in San Antonio.
Besides helping to keep everyone else safe, we also make sure to keep ourselves safe. To do so, we wear masks and gloves, as well as perform contactless deliveries such as opening the trunks of our vehicles to allow the health care providers access to their PPE and doing online signatures. Additionally, every day, we update our practices so that we are constantly utilizing the best safety practices for us and our community health care providers alike. We also take care of ourselves by utilizing coping techniques for stress and by practicing wellness. This coping with stress comes in lots of forms for all of us including staying extremely busy to the exact opposite, like getting rid of the cell phone for a few hours, which really does help. Stress relief also takes the form of cutting one of our poodle’s hair with scissors (bad idea!), going for walks, finding our peaceful equilibrium, enjoying the sun, and practicing gratitude. We are grateful for so much including our health, families, opportunity, inner peace, career, education, and access to health care. For those of us who are living with family currently, we find we are truly blessed to be able to spend that extra time with them we would not otherwise have had, and we are reminded that spending time with family is so important and valuable. Unfortunately, some of us are not able to see our family members and loved ones at this time. Nevertheless, we stay connected through social media, phone calls, and even by written mail. Everyone likes receiving a handwritten letter!
Post-COVID – and, yes, there will be a post-COVID – we are excited to see the aspiring young leaders that we have become continue to blossom. For anyone out there who is wondering, where are this generation’s leaders? Why aren’t they doing anything? Well, we are here to tell you that they are. There are so many young leaders stepping up to the challenge in creative and inspiring ways and we are so honored and uplifted by our health care students’ work. Our students and colleagues have the best of intentions, kindest of hearts, and humblest of spirits (so they will be the last to tell anyone that they did anything!). We believe, because of what we went through, that our generation of physicians will be well-rounded and savvy. We also want you to remember, even if you are just staying in home during this quarantine, you are a hero too!
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