Inova ER doctor recalls ‘exhausting, incredible year’ of pandemic life

This week marks a year since people’s lives changed in ways they could never have imagined — and for a Northern Virginia doctor, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a long and often grueling grind taking care to live and work as safely as possible.

Working 12-hour shifts with a respirator, Goldberg remains worried about catching and spreading the virus. (Courtesy Jared Goldberg)

“It has been an exhausting, incredible year,” said Dr. Jared Goldberg, who works as an emergency physician at Inova Alexandria Hospital. “It has been a very, very redundant and very, very chaotic and very, very exhausting year treating patients with this virus.”

Noting how difficult the past year has been for health care workers, Goldberg said he has seen colleagues burn out and leave the profession, or retire altogether, fearing infection.

“It’s been a real struggle at times, being able to muster up the energy to come into the same situation day after day … and then having to listen to friends, family or people you don’t even know doubt the severity of what you’re dealing with,” Goldberg said. “Whereas in the hospital, you’re seeing the real thing going on — you’re seeing the illness, you’re seeing people’s lives truly being affected on a daily basis.”

Family life has also been challenging. Goldberg’s youngest child, 5, has been attending in-person preschool. Goldberg believes being able to socialize has been good for him. The boy wears a mask all day. The two oldest children, 13 and 18, have been doing virtual schooling from home.

“It’s a little bit harder having everyone in the house all day long when I come home from a long night at work, and I’m trying to sleep before going in for another night shift the following day,” he said. “There’s definitely been a lot of transitioning at home that’s taken place over the course of the year — a lot of adjustments that everybody’s been making.”

Sufficient supplies don’t ease anxiety. Early on, limited availability of personal protective equipment contributed to Goldberg’s stress and concern over his well-being. Now, working 12-hour shifts underneath a full mask respirator, he remains anxious about potentially contracting the disease and exposing his family.

Infection remains a risk, though Goldberg has been vaccinated — on what he recalls as one of his best days in recent memory.

“As funny as that may sound — the most joyous occasion I had was getting that vaccine, getting that shot in my body and finally feeling I had some ammunition to fight in this war.”

Now, with an end in sight, Goldberg believes good news is on the horizon but wants people to remain cautious.

“We’re still dealing with a lot of the same things we were at this time last year. And, I think everybody has fatigue from this,” he said. “But, stay the course, continue to be safe, continue to wear a mask, continue to look out for your fellow neighbors — and we will overcome this.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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