Like many health care workers during the pandemic, Dr. Amie Lynne Meditz, an infectious disease specialist at Boulder Community Health (BCH), is quick to deflect praise. She bristles at the idea of being called “hero.”
“Health care workers are some of the most resilient people you can dream of,” she says. “We get an opportunity to make a difference in the health of people in general, and you’re also helping people individually, making little differences in people’s lives in their most vulnerable moments.”
Meditz says people get into the health care profession because it’s a calling — to use their training to help others is to fulfill an inherent drive.
But Meditz, her colleagues in the infectious diseases department, and other workers at BCH have done much to help those who became ill with COVID-19, those who needed other medical care and the community at-large.
Collaborating with County health officials, BCH administration and other health professionals, Meditz helped develop a plan to maintain community, patient and health worker safety, curb misinformation and address, on an ongoing basis, myriad challenges that have arisen.
“We were having, both the infectious disease specialists as well as the administrative team, make decisions very rapidly based on some information — compared to what we have now it seems it was a tiny [amount],” Meditz says. “But we had to make decisions based on our understanding of respiratory virus, what prevents transmission. One of the pivotal moments I remember, making the decision about universal masking, which was really novel in the U.S. … Now it seems like we’ve been masking for so long.”
Masking, as well as social distancing and other common-sense safety measures, is not universally accepted, of course, and so Meditz appreciates the Boulder community for doing its part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Our community, I think they have played a huge role in saving lives here, compared to other places,” she says. “I think people have distanced and worn masks clearly at another level than people in other parts of the country. … They’re on board with what it takes to prevent transmission.”
Now as we turn to the vaccination stage of combating this pandemic, the work local health providers and officials have done to educate against what Meditz calls the “infodemic” of misinformation is paying dividends. People are, by and large, eager to get the vaccine.
All of that good work was not without some heartache, Meditz says — for her and other health professionals. By now, we’ve read plenty of stories about the toll seeing patients suffering with COVID-19 day-in, day-out can take on those working to help them, and Meditz is no exception.
“It has been an emotional and physical struggle,” she says. “Some days you come to work and you’re trying to make the Boulder bubble as good as it can be, but you start seeing people dying every day. You keep coming and you’re trying to alter your microcosm but people are still dying. Sometimes in the morning I would have a small cry in my car before I came in, because of feeling somewhat helpless about that sometimes. No matter how hard I work or what decisions we make, it isn’t stopping yet.”
But it will stop, sometime, thanks in part to the work of Meditz and other health care workers, whether they want the extra acknowledgement of their work or not. We can be grateful for their work — Meditz is, too.
“I feel lucky,” she says of working at BCH. “Across the board, we’ve created a team of people that are really exceptionally good to work with, at a place that feels so cohesive.”