When the coronavirus pandemic hit the East End with sudden devastation, local health care workers stepped up to keep us safe. In this weeklong series ahead of the Thanksgiving season, we’re proud to highlight their work and show them our gratitude.
Jarid Pachter | Medical director, Quannacut Outpatient Services
Dr. Pachter is an osteopath and primary care physician with offices in Southold and Riverhead. Last spring, he was working as a hospitalist at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport — and as the area suddenly became one of Long Island’s first COVID hot spots, he was called on to lead the clinical task force taking care of COVID patients. “I came in on a Saturday in March because there was a patient who tested positive, and from that point on, I basically lived at the hospital,” he said. “It went quickly from this thing on the news to becoming your life.”
“The benefit of treating patients with coronavirus in our hospital is that, even though we’re part of a big healthcare system, we’re still ultimately a small community hospital. I recognized quite early on that the most important thing in treating these patients was having high-quality nursing care and close attention to their cases. I think we were ahead of the curve in recognizing that we don’t need to rush to put these people on ventilators, nor were we involved in any sort of big study using fancy experimental drugs that were unknown to work at the time.
Everybody of course now talks about the pandemic of 1918 — not much has changed since then. You use masking and social distancing, and even the medical care of these patients is basic bread-and-butter medicine, monitoring their vital signs, making sure their oxygenation is good and being patient with them and calming their anxiety and treating some of their other medical problems that go along with it. I don’t want to suggest that everybody’s going to get better with just close nursing, but I think as a small community hospital we were able to avoid having to put a lot of people on ventilators by being patient and having that continuity of me as the doctor, seeing these patients almost every day, and having the same nursing staff rather than changing shifts every couple of days. And I can’t praise the nurses enough for how they rose to this challenge.
Just as the nature of our job, we deal with mortality a lot and it’s always difficult. But the volume of patients who would come in and who were potentially dying and who actually did, and the anxiety and sadness of them being alone was different and more difficult. And hopefully not something we will ever have to deal with again.
For every horrible situation there is clearly a silver lining, and that was the community support, the donations or even the blasting horns or pots banging at a certain hour of the day near where I live. As somebody with a growing family of my own, to explain to my kids that you’re part of that was really special. The camaraderie and seeing the team across the board rising to the occasion of something so challenging, it makes me very proud.
It’s extra insulting to me when I see people not wearing masks. Just like you do with a patient, you try to empathize and you realize that a lot of people who are still not doing what they should be doing probably have not had any contact with anybody who has gotten coronavirus. There’s still this misconception that it’s being overblown. But if people gave healthcare workers the donations and the food and the applause and the pots and pans, the best gift that anybody can give us and themselves is to keep wearing a mask and keeping social distance, especially when the weather turns cold and people start congregating indoors. Otherwise all the thank you’s are meaningless, because actions speak louder than words.”