Watson Clinic Urgent Care Treating Body and Mind in Trying Times
by TERESA SCHIFFER
As the world reels from the devastating effects of COVID-19, people are realizing the value of employees in essential industries, such as grocery store workers, delivery services, and especially healthcare professionals. Those in the medical field are facing a crisis like none other, and they are dealing with it with grace, courage, and determination. Each day, healthcare providers must adapt quickly to new procedures and safety precautions.
Watson Clinic Urgent Care was quick to prepare for the influx of local coronavirus cases. The organization separated the waiting rooms and began planning for how they would test patients. Soon, it was screening all patients as they arrived for care. Negative pressure rooms are used to test patients, and those who test positive for COVID-19 are brought in through a separate entrance. Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) were assigned to staff.
Dr. Jarett Gregory has been with Watson Clinic for eight of his 14 years practicing medicine. With COVID-19 weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, he has found himself counseling patients not only on their physical health, but on their mental health as well, as patients fret about lost income and other ramifications of the state’s mandatory shut-down. The Watson Clinic Urgent Care South location opened in January and was soon affected by the pandemic, as the number of patients being seen for regular care plummeted. Gregory was touched by the number of individuals and businesses reaching out with support in the form of donations of masks, gowns, other PPE, and food.
The nurses of Watson Clinic Urgent Care South have really gone above and beyond the call of duty according to Gregory. They have been maintaining contact with patients between the time of their COVID-19 test and when they get the results, checking in with them on how they are feeling and providing reassurance during a stressful wait.
In addition to longer hours and more shifts, coping with the stress and uncertainty of this crisis has been a challenge for many in the health field. Dr. Rajendra (Raj) Sawh has been practicing medicine since 1987, working in developing countries and New York City before coming to Florida. This pandemic is unlike anything he has experienced in his career. Sawh says he is struck by how vulnerable we all are to this disease, and how devastating it can be. He recognizes the importance of not just his position as a healthcare provider, but that of all essential workers, noting, “We need to all work in this together. Yes, we are the frontline providers taking care of the patients, but we also need the nurses, we need the people who clean, we need our supermarkets to be open. Our job is important, but we cannot survive without the help of everyone around us.”
Self-care is so vital for everyone right now, from workers who are quarantined at home to the healthcare providers working tirelessly to care for patients. Gregory has been running to counteract stress, as well as watching his intake of sugar and fat. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and frequent contact with loved ones helps him maintain his sense of balance in a world of fear and uncertainty. “You’ve got great accessibility to family and friends because they’re all at home,” he says.
Sawh describes his personal care routine for handling stress, “I think the most important thing I do is to make sure I get enough rest at home, exercise daily, spend time with family, read, and just relax.” He protects his family from exposure by washing carefully and changing into street clothes before leaving work, then immediately laundering his used scrubs upon arriving at home. Like many healthcare providers, he is disturbed when he goes out in public and sees how many people are not using masks properly or are not practicing social distancing measures.
These health heroes on the frontline of the epidemic want the public to understand the risk involved in ignoring social distancing guidelines right now. While they want to assure us all that they will be there for us when we need them, professionals like Sawh urge us all to take appropriate measures to protect ourselves, including staying at home as much as possible, wearing a mask properly in public, and using good hygiene practices.