The emergency physician and internist Carlos Muñoz Torres remembers his first contact with COVID-19 as if it were today, but he never thought of facing this invisible enemy when his arrival on the Island was only rumors.
“Of the first cases that arrived in Puerto Rico, if I am not mistaken, the second one, I attended. I remember that they were telling us that there was already suspicion and rumors of cases in Puerto Rico. That moment is recorded in my mind, when the paramedics arrived and told me that the patient came with such a symptom, there I said: ‘Here it was! This is the first. Here it came! ‘ That feeling of knowing that this is already knocking on your door, I compare it to when the hurricane came, that you are watching the news and for now you look outside and you are already feeling the gusts ”, explained the 33-year-old young doctor from age.
According to Dr. Muñoz, this instance was strong due to the dynamics that took place in the emergency room, given the lack of experience with the Nobel virus.
“It shocked me because we were ready on paper, but not in practice. It was like a mess, looking for clothes … will it or will it not be? Protect yourselves, because at the moment everyone is forgetting the protocol and what they want is to take care of that patient, who arrived very badly. It was even one of the first deaths here. This is how it all started. That was my first contact with the virus, ”said the emergenciologist, who serves as director of an Emergency Room in the country.
As for how the dynamics of emergency rooms have changed from that day zero to today, when the island already reaches a thousand deaths, The internist also assures that the extent of the virus is evident.
“Day to day has changed a lot. The people we have the most contact with are emergency medicine. There is a lot of patient volume. We have had to adjust the emergency rooms, create protocols and be in constant change. You prepare for a number of people, but the reality is that there are more. You have to make adjustments and readjustments. Our practice has changed, ”Muñoz said.
As for his fears for being so in contact with this deadly enemy, the doctor assures that he tries not to feel that fear of being infected when he works, but his main concern is to protect his hospital staff, since many of them are people of legal age .
“I, in particular, try not to be afraid, but many of my staff, especially the nursing staff, are older people, who are afraid of being infected. They get scared and day-to-day tends to be a little tense for everyone when it comes to work because we don’t know who of us is going to get to work today. Already a close staff of mine was touched, got sick and was hospitalized. There are days when the system is oversaturated and, in recent weeks, many cases have arrived. That tires, overloads and fatigue the staff ”, confessed the doctor.
Of all the cases that he has had to attend to, the emergenciologist regretted when, recently, he received two elderly people who were bedridden and who arrived for different scenarios that did not seem to be related to COVID-19, but turned out to be positive for the virus.
“They were being treated for one thing and when you do all the research and the laboratories, the relatives find out that in addition to being very ill, they also had the virus. The only way to get it was from a relative because they were bedridden people. One of them died and the other is very ill. So, dealing with the psychology of the family member who was in shock and their sense of guilt, because I had to deal with that and it was very shocking for me ”.
“I put myself in their place, I who am at risk, I do the weekly test or every two weeks to visit my parents. How am I going to feel when I was the one who hit my dad with that virus? That’s what they must be thinking. And not only did they beat him, but that was his cause of death, “said Dr. Muñoz.
With all the experiences lived, the director of the emergency room, what worries him the most is “from an administrative point of view, it is that the health system becomes oversaturated, which is what it was trying to avoid from the beginning. Because the space I have to put suspicion if it fills me up, I have to put people in the corridors and it increases the risk of me getting infected and that the staff, especially older people, get infected. We would be more vulnerable … That is my greatest concern, “said the doctor, who is also concerned about the lack of consciousness of some people.
“People don’t take this seriously, I see people in San Juan walking without the masks. Not much is being asked of them, distance, wash hands, mask and avoid crowds. I am personally concerned as we as a people are not collaborating with the cause, ”concluded Muñoz.