Health Care is Global: Coronavirus Illuminates both Concerns, and Connections
Right now the world is gripped by news of the novel coronavirus (now given the name COVID-19), which began infecting thousands of people in China at the beginning of this year, and which is now known to be spreading across all continents in the world. As the epidemic travels, I am reminded to reflect on how the medical community is bound together globally, and vitally, in times of urgent concern.
At Doheny, we cherish and maintain relationships with our colleagues at peer institutions throughout Asia. The expertise and groundbreaking research and clinical work we see there informs our own work, and the reciprocal nature of those exchanges allows all of us to move forward more rapidly in vision science research. Working together is what will allow us to find cures for the major diseases that affect our patients.
When confronted with an epidemic like the coronavirus, time is critical. Treatment is crucial, and the race for a cure is urgent. While coronavirus is not known to be a disease affecting the eye, I have been in touch with colleagues in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other countries in Asia, who work in settings and with hospital staff on the frontlines of treatment and prevention. Their quest to do all that they can to make the sick well and promote public health reminds us that for doctors and nurses, our every day work can quickly become urgent. Doctors are tasked with making people well and with working to eradicate disease in every human circumstance, sometimes with no obvious answers or reliable cures. Eye doctors may sometimes be the first to encounter and diagnose a patient with coronavirus as the first sign may sometimes resemble pink eye. Recently our colleagues in Hong Kong published suggested guidelines for how eye doctors can take appropriate safeguards when examining such patients to prevent the spread of the infection. (link: rdcu.be/b2z4O).
In the meantime, we must all take critical steps to limit exposure of members in our household and our community. Be sure to follow prevention tips provided by the CDC: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid contact with people who are sick; and, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. For more tips, go https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Often this space is used to highlight the work of Doheny teams and colleagues. Today, however, I want to acknowledge the work of all our colleagues, graduates, fellows, and collaborators — near and far, including and especially those in China — with a call to rely on the power of our collective abilities, the astonishing capacities of technology, and a determined will for the common good.
Stay safe and healthy.