[VIDEO INTERVIEW] COVID-19: Conversations from the Front Lines: Doctor in New Jersey


Join us for another interview with Doctors on the Front Lines of Covid-19. Marlee Liberman, RN interviews Dr. Matteo Novello, a doctor in New Jersey to discuss what it looks like right now inside the hospitals. They also touch on the ever-evolving subject of early medical school graduation to help in what may become overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare systems. 

Note: This interview was recorded April 9, 2020 and will give you a glimpse of what it was like on the front lines of the pandemic at this hospital at that time. For the latest news from New Jersey and other hard-hit areas across the country, please check your local news sources.

What’s in this interview:

0:48 Aerosol exposure and the risks of infection

2:18 Med students graduating early from school 

3:02 Have we reached the peak?

3:49 The intensity of the second wave

4:14 Protecting yourself from panic

5:03 The best websites for trusted scientific information on COVID-19

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Marlee:

I know a lot of hospitals are canceling elective surgeries just because of the influx of COVID patients.

Doctor:

That is correct. We’ve been canceling elective surgeries since – I want to say – a good two weeks ago. I currently work in a so-called COVID ICU where we are taking care of only those patients that are COVID-positive. This happens because of the overwhelming number of cases that we have here in New Jersey and in the city where I work. It’s a challenging moment for all of us. Those are not easy patients, especially when they have comorbidities and they’re older.

Marlee:

Do you get worried going into work every day?

Doctor:

I’ve been working with these patients for a good two weeks. And, again, we’re speaking of an intensive care unit, so most patients are ventilated. You have that type of aerosol exposure at times, which is the critical exposure that really requires you to wear an N95 mask all the time. In that sense, the virus would have had plenty of time for incubation, developing the symptoms and that just didn’t happen with me. I guess I feel lucky in that sense.

Marlee:

It sounds like you guys are properly equipped with PPE.

Doctor:

I’m fairly proud of the resident program where I’m working because they have been protecting us by providing appropriate PPE and also rearranging the coverage so that we would essentially minimize the exposure to the healthcare providers. Ultimately, there have been quite a few doctors that have been sick among us. If the healthcare system is overwhelmed, for sure, they are asking our help as residents. We really don’t want to be sick at home or quarantined.

Marlee:

There have been talks about trying to get some of the healthcare students to graduate faster so they can come and help. How do you feel about that?

Doctor:

It’s a difficult move; a difficult decision and it’s an extreme one. Number one, you don’t want to expose unnecessary new people to this environment. Number two, accelerating the process of graduation might also mean decreasing the quality of care for the patient.

Marlee:

How do you think the next two or three weeks, or month will look?

Doctor:

We had some predictions coming from a rather famous university program in the United States, and they mentioned that the peak in New Jersey should be around halfway through April. We are probably reaching it still. I do personally think that there is still a window where it could get worse. In fact, there have been recent moves from our hospital in order to open new units dedicated to the care of these COVID-19 patients, just like the one I’m working at.

Marlee:

What about the second wave that everyone keeps talking about? In the fall again.

Doctor:

I think that if there’s going to be a second wave, which is very likely, it’s going to be much less intense just because the vast majority of the people that can develop immunity will have developed immunity by then.

Marlee:

Do you have anything that you want the public to know? Anything that you have any feelings on or experiences with that maybe no one is aware of? I know I think we’re all at the point now where we understand the importance of staying home, but is there anything else?

Doctor:

I’ve tried to minimize the exposure to media and resources that are not strictly scientific. I do think that there is a lot of panic in this whole situation that should not be there. There should be a mindful awareness and people should be able to look at the data and understand the scientific communication from the scientific community.

Marlee:

What did you say the two sites are that people should be paying attention to?

Doctor:

Right. That’s going to be the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the WHO, the World Health Organization.

Marlee:

Perfect. Okay, well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. We really appreciate it.

Doctor:

Yeah, my pleasure.

Marlee:

Be safe.

Marlee Liberman

Marlee Liberman, RN, Master Nursing Scholar

As a registered nurse, Marlee understands the struggles that nursing school throws at you – not to mention the overwhelming pressure preparing for the NCLEX®! Marlee brings a unique skill set and perspective to Picmonic with her previous degree in broadcast journalism, her creativity in video production, and her wandering nomad lifestyle. Her blend of talents provides her with the knack for simplifying complicated concepts and demystifying the world of nursing.

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