Doctors and Nurses Share COVID-19 Experiences, Plea for Holiday Safety

Dr. Briggs-Malonson receiving COVID-19 vaccine

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As COVID-19 cases soar across the country, doctors and nurses from five of Los Angeles County's largest nonprofit health systems are sharing their painful experiences with the escalating pandemic and issuing a sober plea for the public's help to practice safe behaviors during the holidays.

Appearing in a new public service video, these frontline healthcare workers—from Cedars-Sinai, Dignity Health, Keck Medicine of USC, Providence and UCLA Health, describe how fast-rising numbers of COVID-19 patients are leaving hospital staffs exhausted, even as they remain resolute in the face of the ongoing crisis.

"It feels like we're on a spinning wheel," Adupa Rao, MD, of Keck Medicine of USC, said in the video. "The faster we take care of people, the more people are coming in."

Mayra Rojas, RN, an ICU nurse with Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center, added: "Our patients are critically ill. We're just overwhelmed and stressed out by the number of patients we're having to see."

The new video is the latest addition to an ongoing Los Angeles public education campaign—BetterTogether—to promote safe behaviors that can slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 in the U.S., including more than 20,000 in Los Angeles County.

In May, the health systems launched the public education effort by calling attention to growing concerns about members of the public putting off important medical care during the pandemic, potentially creating a secondary healthcare crisis with serious and avoidable health consequences.

Last month, leaders of the effort joined 100 of the nation's top health systems in issuing an urgent plea for all Americans to "mask up", building on scientific evidence that wearing masks can prevent the spread of the virus.

In this latest video message, physicians and nurses from the five health systems renew that critical appeal as millions of Americans prepare to travel and celebrate the holidays.

"One of the messages that I would like to get out to the community during the holiday season is to be mindful, to be respectful, to make sacrifices…that we wouldn't normally make during the holiday season," said Marisa Goldberg, RN, a nurse at Cedars-Sinai.

Angelique Campen, MD, of Providence, added: "Wear a mask, keep your hands clean, avoid large gatherings, social distance."

Medell Briggs-Malonson, MD, of UCLA Health, made a final, critical request.

"Please do us a favor," she says in the video. "Take care of yourself, take care of each other, so that you can help to take care of us and save lives."