Last Saturday was their daughter Charlotte’s sixth birthday. She couldn’t invite friends to celebrate. Matt was in the ICU. Maggie’s mother, who often visits from Minneapolis for such occasions, stayed away to protect her health.
“It’s really hard,” she said. “It’s been a lot.”
Matt’s ICU stints of working seven days in a row, including one night on call, usually come once every six to eight weeks. But with more COVID-19 patients requiring critical care, he will likely be needed there more.
“He’s going to be kind of absent for this period of time, however long it takes,” Maggie said.
Matt said Meriter and UW Health are doing everything they can to protect workers and prepare for a potential onslaught of patients. He is feeling well and stayed in his basement after his ICU stint out of an abundance of caution, he said.
Most providers caring for COVID-19 patients wear face shields and N95 masks, but he is using a device called a powered, air-purifying respirator because his beard prevents a tight seal with an N95. The hood-like, battery-powered respirator includes a hose through which filtered air is pumped.
Despite the protection, he spends a fair amount of time in close proximity with patients whose serious symptoms make them more contagious. Any sniffle he has, any hint of fatigue, makes him wonder.