87°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Health care workers challenged by ‘scary’ virus

“This one is crazy and scary,” said Dr. Derek Meeks of how COVID-19 is affecting the medical community.

Meeks, who serves on the board of trustees at Boulder City Hospital and for the Clark County Medical Society, said he can’t imagine what staff members at medical facilities in large cities such as New York are going through.

Even though Boulder City is a relatively small hospital, he and other staff members take extraordinary precautions to protect their families from possible exposure to COVID-19. He hears the same thing from colleagues.

As medical director of the emergency department at Boulder City Hospital and vice dean and an associate professor at Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Meeks said infectious control procedures have been a part of his life for years.

“In the ER (emergency room), we are used to the risk of infections.”

He said the number of ways a person can get infected are overwhelming if they stop to think about it and adds to the stress of an already stressful situation.

“I did a shift in the ER two days ago; it was really challenging,” he said Friday, April 3, during a telephone interview.

For starters, he said the N95 masks are very “uncomfortable.” After wearing them for just an hour, they start to get itchy so he has to be extremely careful not to scratch his face.

He also washed his hand so many times, his skin began to break down.

“You have to stay vigilant constantly,” noting that people come into the hospital daily with symptoms of COVID-19.

When his shift was over, he removed his clothes and shoes and put them into a trash bag before showering and changing into another outfit.

“I cleaned the bottom of my shoes when I left the hospital and before I got into my car,” he said.

He said he remains as far as he can from his wife when he gets home and they are sleeping in different rooms to keep distance between them.

“It’s strange and different,” he said.

Another challenge is that when he comes home after a “scary shift” he can’t use his normal support system: his wife and family.

Meeks added he hasn’t been able to hug his daughter, her husband or their two children, who recently returned home from a three-month trip to Australia and New Zealand.

He and his co-workers also are concerned about what would happen if one of them gets sick and has to be quarantined.

“ER docs are used to making do and getting by, but we already have a nurse or two out because of this. I imagine that is true everywhere.”

Meeks said he is not an expert on COVID-19 and tries to keep up to date with all the latest information. But that, too, can be overwhelming. He said he can get about 100 emails a day with updates about the virus.

Based on what he has seen and learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Meeks said he believes Nevada will be “hit hard” by the coronavirus in the next two weeks.

He praises the tough decision made by Gov. Steve Sisolak and other government officials.

“I think the quarantine is a wonderful thing for everyone’s health. I don’t think the emergency system could have handled (the number of cases) if there had not been a quarantine. There are not enough ICU beds and ventilators.

“I do think it was the right move as much as I hate the quarantine. The idea of flattening the curve was necessary for health care to manage patients.”

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Schools report smooth return

Parents can finally exhale after a long summer of kids in the house as school is back in session in Boulder City. On Monday, Aug. 8, all four schools in town welcomed back students for the 2022-23 school year in an orderly fashion without any mishaps.

Council OKs plan to remove turf

Water was once again the main focus for City Council. At its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9, an agreement with the Southern Nevada Water Association that will remove turf in Boulder City to save on water was approved 4-0 by the council.

Council gets first look at Nevada Way remodel

The Boulder City Council was introduced to a project that will remodel and rehabilitate the stretch of Nevada Way from Wyoming to Park streets during its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9.

More human remains found at Lake Mead

More human remains have been found at Lake Mead, according to officials at the national recreation area.

Fire department targets sites to improve response times

Two locations are being targeted for a new Boulder City Fire substation that the City Council approved last month to help the department improve response time to emergencies. The proposed new fire station, labeled Station 122, is looking at sites at Quartzite Road and Nevada Way as well as near the library at 701 Adams Boulevard. The city owns land in both locations.

Ex-manager sues city; claims retaliation

Former City Manager Al Noyola filed a lawsuit against the city Friday, July 29, alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was fired Oct. 13, 2020.

School begins Monday

School is almost back in session for the quartet of schools in Boulder City.

Storms cause minor damage

Monsoon season brought damage to Boulder City as the town was hit with a collection of storms last week. Luckily, the city was able to handle the storms in an efficient manner, according to officials, who dealt with the typical gravel and rock erosion, power outages and roof leaks.

Lend A Hand awarded $101K from state

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Nevada has awarded $30 million in Community Recovery Grants to nonprofit organizations including Lend A Hand of Boulder City. The local organization was one of the 30-plus applicants that received money funded by American Rescue Act Plan dollars.

Drought drives tough talks to cut water use

Nevada and two of its neighboring Southwestern states are still working on ways to drastically cut water use from the Colorado River as a deadline set by the federal government to address the worsening conditions along the river quickly approaches.