My Life During the COVID19 Pandemic - Cleveland East Side Moms

My Life During the COVID19 Pandemic

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by | Mar 22, 2020 | Meet A Mom

A few days ago, I asked my friend and fellow Mom to write about her experience as a Doctor right now.  She has been sharing helpful and sobering information on her Facebook page almost daily as she and other healthcare workers battle COVID-19 and put their own lives in danger!!  I asked if she would write something for all of us and below is her story!!  Her name is Dr. Gabrielle Koczab, she recently just finished battling a heroic fight with breast cancer and she is one (of many) of the reasons we all need to STAY HOME!!!  And she’s also one of the reasons why we need to tell our kids to STAY HOME!!!  And did I mention:  STAY HOME!!!


Here is her story:


I am just shy of turning 39. I wear many hats- I am a mommy, a doctor, a wife and a cancer survivor. I lost my original position in my hospital system in December after I had exceeded my FMLA and medical leave of absence time due to breast cancer. I underwent a double mastectomy, months of a grueling chemo regimen that damaged my heart and my bone marrow and then 5 weeks of daily radiation that left me with fatigue and skin burns. This wasn’t years ago, I actually just finished all of these treatments in mid January of this year. By the beginning of February, my energy was better and I felt compelled to return to the work force. I took a job in urgent care. Flu season was still in full swing and my friends and family members were worried enough with influenza still circulating. Little did I know a month later we would be in a global coronavirus pandemic.


The best way I can describe how I feel going into work every day is this: I feel like a firefighter running into a burning building each time I have to see a patient with a cough. I have a surgical mask and gloves and my glasses. Knowing it is probably not enough, I willingly put my patients first. I took an oath to do this when I graduated from medical school 13 years ago.


When I arrive home from work, my shoes and clothes come off at the door. My white coat and clothes go right into the laundry. I then immediately take the hottest shower I can tolerate. My glasses, phone, badge and pens get wiped down with a disinfectant wipe. I can only hope that it is enough to prevent me from a COVID19 infection.


The people who care about me plead me to not work. It’s not that simple. If I refuse to work out of fear, I could potentially lose my job for breach of contract. I have already lost one job and I cannot afford to lose another. My medical director knows my situation. My oncologist has written a letter requesting to reassign me since I am at high risk of complications from a COVID19 infection. I have submitted my application for telemedicine but they are backed up with a pile of applications from many other physicians in the same boat. Some are over 60, some are immunocompromised, some are pregnant. I am taking it one day at a time and doing my best. I didn’t beat cancer just to get taken out by a virus.


For all those who are furloughed and at home and want to help the health care professionals, here is what you can do to help:


1. Write to your senators urging them to increase accurate COVID19 testing and provide physicians with the protective gear they need. If the health care workers are all sick, there will be no one to take care of you or your family when you get sick.


2. Donate Blood. We are now experiencing critical shortages


3. Donate unused masks and gloves to your local hospitals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


4. Stay home! Have groceries delivered and wash everything with soap and water when it comes. Until we have the ability to test large quantities of people, this is our best defense!


5. Sew masks for those on the front lines of this. My hope is that everyone reading this understands that this is not a normal flu. Millions of people will die of this disease. That is on top of the 2.6 millions Americans that die each year of heart disease, cancer, accidents and other diseases.


Stay home. Stay safe.



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