When the COVID pandemic started, the department of public health opened a field care tent, which is an extra space for us to take care of COVID patients that are outside of the hospital. This was a model that was adapted in San Francisco based off of what they were seeing in Europe and Italy and in New York at the time. When the hospitals were getting overrun, they built these tents as a way to allow patients to be treated and seen without actually having to go into the hospital.
So I started working there in April and I have done over 300 hours of work within the tent that is located in the Bayview. And the Bayview is one of the epicenters of COVID in San Francisco. I would say there was a month that I reflected on all of the patients that I had personally diagnosed with COVID and every single one of them was a Spanish speaking person. And to me that is alarming and so sad. I feel like the people that I was speaking to, who I was unfortunately providing them their diagnosis and the fear that they were having was completely understandable.
And also just the fear of what to do next. I've talked to people who live in multi-generational homes. How do they go home? If they don't go home, where do they go? If they spend time in this isolation center, how do they provide money to their families? I just personally witnessed many of these stories - ways that COVID has been impacting these communities. And. We're still seeing the trends, despite our awareness and understanding that our communities are being disproportionately impacted, it’s still happening. And I think that there's going to be long-term impacts that we don't even know.
We just didn’t have the patients there that we were expecting. And I would feel thankful every day that I would leave the tent, knowing that we've been very lucky. Over the past couple of weeks, though, we are seeing an increase in San Francisco. We are entering our third surge, which is by far the worst and rates are increasing higher than we've ever seen. And we're not sure when the end is near. And so we are seeing more patients in the tents and trying to provide care when we can.
It's been challenging because I am constantly afraid of bringing COVID back to my friends and my family. I honestly am personally not afraid of this disease. I am young. I am healthy. I have a strong immune system. I, we don't really know what happens to each person when they get it, but it's not something that I'm walking around in fear of. What I do walk around in fear of is the possibility of infecting the people around me. And that is been challenging to continue to keep my relationships with my family members, because I don't want to put them at risk. I haven't seen my father in over a year. I have been able to make some adjustments to be able to see my mom. It's really important for her to have time for us to be together, but we had the first three trips that she was planning out to California were canceled. It seemed like a good idea at the time - she was really trying to make the trip happen. She lives in Colorado. I live in California. We thought that there might be a moment in space that we'd be able to be together. And before both of those - all of those trips - she we'd look at the statistics. I'd see the rising cases happening in my city and tell her, I didn't feel like it was safe.
However, most recently we have figured out a way to make it happen, which has been just one of the most wonderful things that's happened to me during COVID. And it's been incredibly special to have her here over the last month that we can spend this quality time together that we haven't been able to have for all of 2020. We've had a great week this past week. I go back to work on Monday and we'll be working in the field tent and then doing a series of night shifts at San Francisco general and falling back into the caution and fear of what it would be like to bring COVID home to my mom.
And so we're figuring out what to do about that. And it might be sending her back to Colorado a few days early.
I'm getting the vaccine today. I can't believe it. It's like the beginning of the end for me is the way I perceive this vaccine. We still have a long way to go. This is hopeful. I have been refreshing my email over and over and over again for the past couple of days, knowing that an invitation to get the vaccine was coming. And yesterday afternoon, it came.
And I was able to schedule my vaccine for 2:00 PM today and immediately just felt this sense of relief and excitement to know that it's finally here and that I have a schedule for it to happen. We celebrated last night with a bottle of champagne. I think that it's nice to finally have something that we can celebrate.
This is a time of hope and a time for us to start looking into the future and what it will be like post-pandemic. So today I'm gearing up, getting ready to go with my mom, walk together over to the hospital. And so I can make my point at two o'clock. I don't expect a bunch of fanfare there. There were video cameras and a lot of excitement the first day that people got vaccinated when they had selected specific people from the ICU and the emergency departments, both doctors and nurses to get vaccinated. And it was a historical moment. And now the rest of us get our turn.
All of us are rightfully concerned before injecting something unknown into our bodies - to have concerns about it. And I then did my research and I've looked at their primary studies and read the analyses and have trust in science and trust in our system that this vaccine is relatively safe and definitely worth the benefit over the risk of getting the vaccine.
What I see the challenge now is are people also gonna buy in to this? Having the vaccine available is not the solution. The solution is everybody actually getting the vaccine. And if only a select population of us do it, then we're still going to be in this pandemic and I don't see a way out of it.
One of the strategies that I used two weeks ago was accepting an invitation for an interview on a local news station. And I said yes to the interview because I wanted to use this as a forum to talk about my enthusiasm for the vaccine. I wanted to make the point that I believe in science and I believe in the process. And I believe that I'm going to get the vaccine and I encourage all of us to do the same. Unfortunately, as things happen in local media sometimes, or media in general, the title of the snip that was put onto the website and aired on local TV was “Healthcare workers skeptical of COVID vaccine.”
I was devastated. I have since reached out to the news. A broadcasting company they've changed the title and apologized for misrepresenting what I had said. So I'm deciding now, if I still want to do any type of media advocacy, or if there might be a different route for me to try to get my voice heard.
I have hopes that we're going to have more equitable healthcare after this. I think that the pandemic has been able to expose just how disproportionate our healthcare is provided across communities. And we've been able to hold up a mirror to see that this is wrong. And I'm hoping that in the future, we have figured out a way to provide better healthcare to all of our populations.
I miss being able to hug and be with my friends and my family. And I cannot wait to have this vaccine and I cannot wait for the other people around me to have the vaccine so that we can confidently and comfortably continue to pass our love and admiration for each other.