Right now, the world is at war. But the enemy is a virus, not a country—and our heroes are not enlisted persons. Instead, they are soldiers of another kind: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clinic associates, caregivers, grocery store clerks, small business owners, and city workers. Every day, they sacrifice their health for the health of our community; they endure long hours in personal protective equipment to give us the services we still so desperately need.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we would like to honor ZOOM+Care’s front line. To highlight the important work our providers and clinic associates do—and to learn more about the extraordinary challenges they’re currently facing—we’re dedicating our next few #TogetherWeZoom posts to them.
First up, we spoke to Danielle Almony: a PA-C at our Ballard clinic in Seattle. Read on to learn about how she’s coping with COVID-19 stress and anxiety, what her favorite quarantine pastime is, and her advice for how to support medical workers during this time.
Hi Danielle! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. So, first off, given the moment, how are you feeling?
As most people are saying, it’s a weird time. At times, I feel like I’ve got everything in control, but other times I look around and think, “Wow, what is going on right now.
What challenges do you and the ZOOM+Care staff face on a daily basis?
I think one of the biggest challenges we are facing is not being able to have a warm interaction with our patients anymore. I miss the handshake and the ability to share a smile since we now have to wear masks throughout the day. I feel like the personal connection with learning about our patients, such as what they like to do, how their day is going, has gone by the wayside a bit. It’s been hard to practice medicine as I had prior to this pandemic. I feel that people aren’t always quite as open in these times.
What was a normal day for you before coronavirus? What are your days like now?
Before coronavirus, I used to love grabbing a coffee and going for a walk around Greenlake after dropping my oldest daughter off at preschool. I also loved browsing the library for fun books and going to the zoo. These activities have been halted, but now I make coffee at home and go for a walk in my neighborhood, trying to maintain social distancing by crossing the street. We are looking for books virtually now, and while we have lost turning pages, we have been able to find some books that are interactive. And, we’ve rediscovered our backyard and the joy of make-believe.
What precautions do frontline workers have to take when clocking off and going home?
I live with my partner and two daughters, and prior to the pandemic, I would love to open the front door and to get big hugs from them. However, I now go in through my garage and take a shower prior to seeing them. I also have been cognizant of checking my temperature daily and being aware of the smallest things, which prior to the pandemic, I would have brushed them off.
Can you describe the mood amongst the ZOOM+Care staff?
I think, overall, we are optimistic that things are moving the right direction. I feel that we have adapted with the addition of Phone and VideoCare ™ visits. Implementing these visits has allowed us to interact with people again in a safe and controlled way, and has lifted a bit of the anxiety off our shoulders regarding PPE counts and exposure as frontline workers. I also feel that Chat and VideoCare™ are the future of medicine, as it puts the patient in control of when and how they want to be seen. The fact that it was rolled out so quickly was extraordinary, and really opened ZOOM+Care up to a new world of medicine.
How is the Zoom staff dealing with the potential shortage of Personal protective equipment?
Thankfully, ZOOM+Care has been able to maintain our PPE, but at times looking at our dwindling numbers, it gets to be a bit concerning. We are making sure to practice social distancing, and thanks to telehealth, have been able to preserve our PPE for those patients who really need in-person visits.
What’s your favorite activity or practice to keep the COVID blues at bay?
I have always loved cooking and am trying to jump on the baking bread train. I’ve learned that I will probably never open a bakery…
What are you doing to cope with stress and anxiety right now?
My partner and I have rediscovered a love of doing puzzles. It really allows us to disconnect from the ever-present social media and news and just focus on one piece at a time.
Any advice on how to support medical workers during this time?
I think one of the biggest things to do is to continue social distancing and to stay home because that keeps everyone healthy and can hopefully slow the transmission of this virus. Also, realizing that we are here if we are needed—and will continue to be here when the pandemic slows. I want to tell patients that they shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a visit.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when all of this is over?
Go back to the farmer’s market and meet my friend’s new baby!
If you could tell the general public one thing right now, what would it be?
That it is ok to be not ok, and at some point or another, we are all feeling that way. The vast majority of us have never lived through a pandemic before, and so we are all taking it one step at a time.
ZOOM+Care is doing a lot to fight COVID-19 in our community. What’s been your proudest moment on the job since the pandemic hit?
ZOOM+Care has been amazing in the way it has supported both the staff and the patients. Having a daily check-in with leadership has given us insight into our ever-evolving approach to fighting this virus. Also, the fact that leadership has been available and open to answering any and all questions makes me feel supported and like they have my best interest at heart. Being able to partner with a laboratory to test an at-home kit for COVID-19 diagnosis shows how forward-thinking we are as a company, and I am proud to be a part of that.