Dr. Stephanie Loe is an emergency medical physician at Riverside University Health System Medical Center. She’s been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic since January. She helped care for the plane full of evacuees from Wuhan, China that landed at March Air Reserve Base. Her passion to help people and challenge herself took her to New York to help at the height of their surge.
“It was almost indescribable how many patients that they had and how their hospitals were functioning,” says Loe.
She was assigned to work in the intensive care unit, which at that point was most of the hospital.
“Their ICUs were completely overwhelmed, almost every single floor in the hospital I worked at were ICU floors designed for these COVID patients,” adding nothing could prepare her to see this many COVID patients suffering the worst of the illness, many on ventilators fighting severe respiratory disease and multi organ failure, “trying to manage it was such a huge struggle not only physically, emotionally, mentally.”
The long hours didn’t weigh on her as much as the worst side effect of this disease: patients dying alone.
“The biggest part of the emotional toll is knowing that somebody’s family member is dying and they can’t be there,” she says.
Now hospitals across the county including hers are implementing their surge plans because of the spike in COVID cases. While it’s still nowhere near what it was in New York, she knows the reality of what can happen.
“If it gets out of control and we surge too quickly, patients are unfortunately going to suffer and we want to take care of them we want to give everyone the best possible chance with this disease,” she says.
She says she learned many valuable lessons about this virus that is helping save lives here and is grateful for the trials she went through to learn them, “What an amazing experience that, that I got to go there, that I got to see it, that I got to help and somewhat, hopefully made a difference.”