Somewhere between the 16 hour shifts and four hours of sleep, Dr. David de la Zerda knows he is living through a time that will likely define his career and more
“There is fear like in any pandemic, but people are working hard," he said.
It’s been two weeks since he’s had a day away from Jackson Memorial Hospital’s ICU. He gets there at 6 a.m. and leave at 10 p.m. When he goes home, he sleeps in a room separate from his wife and kids.
“It’s challenging - with my kids especially - I really miss them, and they’re at an age where they understand it’s unsafe for me to be here,” he said.
Dr. de la Zerda’s reality is just one shared by millions of healthcare workers around the world- whose work right now is imperative and critical. Next week, doctors and medical experts are bracing for an influx of COVID-19 patients that will surpass anything we’ve already seen - and it won’t stop for several weeks thereafter.
“It’s just not going to go our way next week," de la Zerda said. "We’re just going to be here and it’s going to plateau in about two months and it will last until the end of the year. It will not be a pandemic by December but we still have patients here with the disease.”
Miami-Dade has yet to see a death from COVID-19, but it has been preparing. Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered hospitals to stop non-essential surgeries, meaning Jackson Memorial’s south and west towers are solely dedicated to these patients with two floors devoted to intensive care patients.
“I work between six in the morning and I get home around 10 p.m.," de la Zerda said.
That means more work for Dr. de la Zelda, work that will define more lives than just his.
“This is what we signed up for and this is what we liked the most,” he added.