For many emergency physician parents, the COVID-19 crisis has placed them in the unique position of managing not only the stress of caring for patients on the front lines, but also caring for their families at home. It prompted new concerns about their own safety and that of their families. Schools shut down, normal routines were thrown out the window, face masks became de rigueur. EM families experienced the disruption, but with an added layer of concern for their loved ones on the front lines.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 39 – No 05 – May 2020
ACEP Now spoke with several emergency physicians to hear what has helped them explain this pandemic—and their important role in fighting the virus—to their children of all ages.
- Vonzella Bryant, MD, FACEP, EM clerkship director at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine, with two children (ages 12 and 10)
- Ari Gotlib, MD, EM faculty at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, with four children (ages 10, 8, 8, 4)
- Jordana Haber Hazan, MD, FACEP, and Alberto Hazan, MD, emergency physicians in Las Vegas with two daughters (ages 4 and 2)
- Howie Mell, MD, MPH, CPE, FACEP, an emergency physician who works in St. Louis but lives in North Carolina, with four children (ages 14, 12, 10, 7)
- Christina Shenvi, MD, PhD, FACEP, professor, associate residency director for the University of North Carolina Department of Emergency Medicine, with four children (ages 11, 9, 7, 5)
- Michael Wilson, MD, locums physician from Tyler, Texas, with seven children (ages 18, 16, 14, 7, 5, 18 months, 6 months)
COVID Conversations: Every Kid is Different
Maybe future parenting books will include a chapter titled “How to Solve the Pandemic Parenting Puzzle,” but for now, physician parents are left without a standard pathway. Still, they agreed that communication has to be tailored to each child depending on age, personality and family circumstances.
When Dr. Wilson volunteered for a three-week assignment in New York City to care for COVID-19 patients, he and his wife discussed the disease with their older kids differently than with the younger children. “I told them, ‘It’s a really bad disease that is killing a lot of people. At the same time, we know that if we are given talents and tools to help, we can’t sit here and watch other people suffer.’” Dr. Wilson said they talked about it in context of their religious beliefs, discussing how important it is to “step up and do something” if you can lessen someone’s pain and suffering.