DDN: Former Wright State athletes seeing ‘the devastation’ of COVID-19

Excerpt

They’ve all seen people in stores and clubs, standing outside restaurants and attending basketball games, meetings and church while refusing to wear masks. They’ve seen people letting their guard down and gathering in large groups.

They’ve even heard people denying the severity of COVID-19. And then there are those so irresponsible or obtuse or politically warped that they claim there is no coronavirus at all.

Dr. Brian Cothern and registered nurses Taylor Schweickart and Mylan Woods are all former Wright State athletes who now are working in the medical field.

They are putting their own lives on the line as they deal with the pandemic that has laid siege to the nation and they’ve seen, as Cothern put it, “the devastation” COVID can cause and how it can “really ruin families.”

And yet, when I suggested it would be good lesson for those selfish and clueless naysayers to spend a day with her at Miami Valley Hospital in order to see COVID-19 up close, Woods – a two-time Ohio Division II Basketball Player of the Year before playing at Northwestern and then for the Raiders – promptly disagreed:

“Actually, no I wouldn’t want that. I’d hate for other people to go through this. I’ve been that nurse who has had to FaceTime someone’s family when their loved one is in the hospital, maybe dying, and they can’t see them.
“The nurses up there in the ICU see that and feel that every day. The take it home with them. They’re battling some real serious mental health issues of their own now.
“When I was there, I’d come home sometimes and just cry. Other times I’d just vent. And sometimes I just needed to be all alone.
“So no, I wouldn’t tell anybody to come and spend a day in my shoes.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Cothern – a former first team, All-Horizon League soccer player who graduated from Wright State’s medical school, did his internship there and now is finishing his fellowship in cardiology at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis – knows what Woods is talking about:

“The hardest thing is to tell someone they’re dying and, because no visitors are being allowed in, they have no one there to comfort them and help them through it.

“Sometimes if a person is about to go on a ventilator, they may be taking their last breath on their own. That’s scary.

“These encounters happen every single day and they never get any easier.”

In fact, these situations are occurring more and more.

Even with the bumpy rollout of two vaccines in the United States, 2021 – almost unbelievably – has started out even worse than 2020.

In the past two weeks or so, the U.S. has shattered its all-time daily records for COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

According to a CNN report Friday, the nation recorded 302,506 infections on Jan 2. That’s one case every 3.5 seconds. On Jan., 6, 132,447 people were hospitalized and just five days ago there were 4,462 deaths in a 24-hour period.

Over the next three weeks, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced 90,000 people could die from COVID-19.

No one knows the impact of the virus any more than Schweickart.

The West Carrollton High School grad who ran track at Wright State now works as a nurse in Los Angeles, which is the new epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Los Angeles County – the largest in the nation with a population of 10 million – has had 1 of every 10 residents test positive for COVID. A person is dying from it there every eight seconds.

Hospitals, ambulance services, funeral homes – and especially medical people – are overwhelmed.

Since December, Schweickart has been working as a swabbing nurse at a drive-through testing site outside of a West Los Angeles medical center. Covered head to toe in PPE (personal protective equipment), she comforts anxious people and answers their questions as she tests them for COVID.

She said some 400 to 600 people a day come through her testing site.

“It’s really crazy,” she said by phone during her lunch break. “Hospitals are so over-crowded, people are being treated in the gift shops and out in the parking lots.”

Dozens of hospitals have shut their emergency room doors to ambulances for hours at a time.

“I haven’t been in this very long, but it’s unlike anything I’ve seen and it’s nothing like we were taught in medical school,” Cothern said. “I’ve got a bunch of bosses in their 60s and they said they’ve never seen anything like this either.”

While Woods doesn’t want the general public to see it up close like she and Schweickart and Cothern are, she does have one suggestion:

“Just wear your friggin’ mask!”

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