NOTE: The following information was published June 11, 2020. For current COVID-19 information, visit LVHN.org/COVID-19.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, none more so than those working on the front lines of this crisis – our health care heroes. Voices From the Front Lines is a series of interviews with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) health care providers who are working to care for patients who are ill with COVID-19, as well as those who are dedicated to helping prevent the spread of this virus.
Emergency medicine physician Marc Bonin, DO, came to Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) two years ago, arriving from WellSpan Health System in Lebanon, Pa. He received his medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in emergency medicine at UMPC Pinnacle Memorial. His childhood admiration of a cousin, who was an ear, nose and throat specialist, fueled his interest in health care. Bonin started out in behavioral medicine before discovering emergency medicine was his real passion.
What is every day like during the COVID-19 crisis?
In many ways, every day is just another day in the ER. We are trained to expect unexpected emergencies with critical patients, to care for people in crisis. With COVID-19, we’re seeing a higher percentage of sick patients than we’re used to and that can be challenging. But we’re there to respond to all challenges. That’s what we do in emergency medicine.
How has this experience changed you, professionally or personally?
I’ve become more appreciative of my co-workers and my community. I’ve always been very grateful for the team we have in the ER, but the support we’ve received from colleagues throughout the hospital has been amazing. And we’ve received all sorts of kindness from the community, from daily donations of food, to Girl Scout troops making us mask ties, to the well wishes written in chalk on the sidewalk. Having people calling you a hero, well that makes us all proud of the work we’re doing.
What’s inspired you? What is a defining moment during this?
I’ve been inspired by my colleagues’ response to this call to action, the way they’ve been caring for very sick COVID-19 patients. Nobody has shrunk away from the challenges of this version of disaster. Everybody has been fulfilling their calling in the way they care for patients and for each other.
What have you learned about yourself or your team?
I’ve learned about my team’s courage in the face of COVID-19. Every one of us is stepping up every day to help these patients with this very contagious condition, doing everything we can possibly do. COVID-19 presents an intense challenge on a daily basis, and everyone is there to help.
What are your rituals to keep you and your family safe?
Some of my colleagues haven’t gone home for weeks, staying in a hotel rather than putting their families at some risk. In my case, my wife also is an ER provider. We are very familiar with the safety protocols you hear about – showering immediately upon returning home, then washing your face and not touching your face, for example. I keep my work clothes in a bag and toss them into the washing machine right away. I leave my work shoes at the hospital. I keep the shoes and clothes I wear home from the hospital outside of the house.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for health care employees or the community?
Stay home as much as possible. Maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face. Some people think this infection has been blown out of proportion, that it’s not that serious. I can tell you, I’ve seen things I have never before seen. We’ve never faced a situation like this in our lifetimes.
Are there any other thoughts you would like to share about this experience or about the resilience of patients?
It’s heartwarming to see some incredibly sick patients recover. With the nature of this virus, you see people who are otherwise healthy become suddenly, tragically ill and then literally return from the edge of a cliff. I’ve never in my career seen anything like that before.
Find more inspiring stories from the front lines and beyond at LVHN.org/COVIDSTRONG.