“You still just go on,” she said, “because patients need you,” Dr. Mary Krebs tells Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Levitz in an article published today. Dr. Krebs is a family physician at HealthSource of Ohio, one of Ohio’s 56 Community Health Center organizations. Ohio’s Health Centers span about 400 sites and are part of a network of nearly 1,400 nationwide.
Levitz writes, “As the only doctor at a local community health clinic for low-income patients, Dr. Krebs was on call and advising a flurry of anxious patients who were worried they might be ill with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. She sent one with trouble breathing to the emergency room. She told others without significant symptoms to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid others and call back if anything changed. What she didn’t tell them: She was also sick. Dr. Krebs had diagnosed herself with COVID-19, based on her telltale symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, dry cough and exposure to a patient who had tested positive. She was quarantined at home.”
Like most health centers nationwide, the health center where Dr. Krebs works had a shortage of N95 masks and testing kits. Dr. Krebs described to the Wall Street Journal how she tried to guess which patients had the virus and use a mask only on riskier patients but learned on March 15th that a patient she had treated tested positive.
Dr. Krebs’ story is similar to ones we are hearing nationwide from the frontlines, shortages of protective gear (PPE) and a new normal of handling patient visits through telehealth.
According to the Journal article, Dr. Krebs “handled more than 130 calls over the weekend. She got 70 just on Saturday, not stopping for lunch until after 4 p.m., and waking up to take calls that night. She got 60 calls on Sunday. “
We’re happy to report that Dr. Krebs’ fever has lifted and she is healing. We thank her for her dedicated service on the frontlines.