First-Hand Experience and Expertise

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For today’s blog post, I’m sharing the words of two friends, an ICU nurse and a food economics and policy expert.

The weekend report from my hospital:

Covid cases continue to rise in our hospital.  I worked the past two days and they were tough ones.  We had 9 covid positive in ICU, 7 of them intubated (breathing tube).  We had 7 non-covid patients in ICU.  The floor is experiencing record numbers of hospitalized covid cases.  People that need to be hospitalized, but not requiring ICU care are out on the floor beds. They had 13 covid cases on Tuesday, and even more than that on Wednesday.    We were so busy that I didn’t really have time to get exact numbers, but once when I talked to the floor charge nurse, he said they were expecting 3 more admissions that were positive for covid.  Two of their patients were heading toward needing ICU if they did not improve.  They had a 25-year-old that became short of breath just sitting on the side of his bed. Although I was not there I was told that Sunday was a record day, as well.
We had multiple very sick patients and we were proning 3 of our patients.  As you can imagine it is very hot trying to work in the patient rooms with the N95, faceshield, headcover, gown and gloves.  Our nurses sweat, the masks leave red marks and indentations on their faces.  I see my coworkers getting weary.  Many are working extra; one of our nurses just worked 10 shifts in a row (12 hr).   We have had two back injuries suffered by personnel in our department from turning and proning our heaviest patients. We are again calling back the nurses with ICU experience who work in other areas now.
 One of the tendencies that I notice with some of our patients is that they make gains, look like they are getting better, then they crump and take a turn for the worse.  Sometimes this happens multiple times in the course of their illness.  It feels like one step forward, two steps back and is disheartening.   Yesterday one of our patients who had made great improvement, suddenly and inexplicably desaturated and required resuscitation.  As you can imagine, running a code situation with all code team members in full covid isolation gear is not easy. Hearing each other is challenging, the chest compressors become extremely warm doing chest compressions in all their garb.  We lost the battle, so today is difficult. Thank you for reading this, for your care, encouragement, and friendship.  I appreciate you!


Thoughts on why it’s wise to listen to recognized experts rather than politicians, mystery researchers, and game show hosts:

When I was working, I was an expert on a particular issue (food economics and policy). I obtained a graduate degree in my field in order to learn the context and history surrounding it and the rigorous statistical methods necessary to evaluate it. Then I spent 40 plus hours a week reading, thinking, studying, reviewing and discussing my area of expertise with others who were also experts in my field or closely related fields. Our days were spent consuming every relevant piece of credible scientific research that we could lay our hands on in order to develop policies that reflected actual conditions in our society. That was our job. That was our mission – to develop sound policy recommendations based on FACTS. We took our jobs very seriously. Our work was always reviewed by several layers of several colleagues within our agency to ensure that our conclusions stood up to scrutiny. Published work was sent to colleagues outside of the agency to ensure our conclusions stood up to scrutiny.

The same holds true for every Federal scientific and statistical agency in America like the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). I’ve worked with the experts at NCHS. Nothing gets published without intense professional scrutiny. No recommendation is made without first reviewing every piece of relevant, credible science. Of course, politicians frequently misused our findings, but that’s on them, not us. Yesterday a young man suggested that I review for my edification a summary of a cherry-picked collection of COVID-19 studies compiled by an unknown person or persons with unknown funding calling themselves a Swiss research organization online. For all I know, the organization could be a Russian propaganda cell or a guy in his basement in Berlin or Dallas. A few weeks ago, someone shared with me the videographed opinion of a single doctor who’s not even treating COVID-19 patients as he is now a GOP representative. A few days ago, our POTUS retweeted a post from former game show host Chuck Woolery, bashing our nation’s top infectious disease expert.*

I ask you, who can you believe about COVID-19? Game show hosts and POTUS’ “very large brain” or people and organizations whose sole purpose in life, whose mission it is to study every single credible scientific study in order to bring a concise understanding of the problem vetted by an army of experts working on the same problem? I guarantee you that game show hosts, POTUS, mystery “researchers,” and politicians who happen to be doctors have not spent a billionth of a percent of the time and effort studying COVID-19 as have the brilliant public servants at the CDC and the world’s other premier public health institutions. Don’t waste your time on the un-learned opinions of anyone who hasn’t DONE THE WORK..

I’m not adding or subtracting anything from their words. They’re both friends of mine, people I have talked and laughed with, people I trust. Rather than make an abstract argument about what people are suffering with this disease or what sources we’re listening to, I offer you this.

*A few hours after Woolery’s accusatory tweet, he tweeted that his adult son has been diagnosed with COVID and shortly thereafter deleted his Twitter account. This is his latter tweet:

“To further clarify and add perspective, Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for of those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones,” Woolery tweeted before his account disappeared

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