AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 17

with testing, self-quarantine, and a
negative test result before employees may return to work.
In what now seems like both a
blur and a moment frozen in time,
my registration lead mouths to me
from outside my office door, " I
thought I had a kidney infection, so
I went to the doctor. I am positive. "
What? She does everything right.
Barely able to comprehend the
full meaning of what she just said,
I send her home and think. The
survival instincts re-awaken and I
initiate Plan B.
Okay, we got this. Surely others
who called out sick that morning
are coincidence. Surely this is
some weird anomaly and everything will be fine tomorrow. We
are safe and careful. Surely this
thing is over . . . right?
August 18: Another call-out
from an employee who woke up
with body aches, headache, and
fever. While mentally tracing the
contact of my one COVID-19positive employee with the now
three employees awaiting results at
home, I am still confident we were
dealing with one isolated case.
Confident . . . or hopeful? I am
convinced this is a glimpse into
bizarro-world, and everything will
be fine. Until the texts begin.
Employee #1 texts a picture of
her positive test results. Like most
administrators, I constantly review
our safety protocol: masks mandatory at all times, temperatures
taken at every building entrance,
guests admitted by appointment
only. What am I missing? Is it
time to halt clinics until we figure
this out? Before I can meet with
the physician team to formulate a
plan, another text comes through.
Employee #3, positive. Is this
really happening?

Something unique happens
during times of crisis. Employees are
worried, but they step up. We make
it through the day without upsetting
too many patients and realize the
next 10 days might be challenging,
but we will be okay. Healthcare is
tough and we are thick-skinned and
ready for battle most of the time
already. But this is different. This
silent enemy has turned on our own
team. Will everyone be okay? Could
anyone else be sick?
August 19: A day of defeat. Four
confirmed cases, three more awaiting test results at home, and two
providers now symptomatic.
August 20: Seven employees and
two providers. No clue if live virus
is still lurking within our practice.
In an ironic turn of events, half our
staff has tested positive and I am
now waiting to see if any might still
test negative.
August 31: We are returning
to normal. Our first six positive
employees have returned from
quarantine and the rest will return
by the end of the month. I am
thankful for our safety protocol
that kept sick employees home and
patients safe. I am also thankful
that everyone has recovered, and
the virus' flu-like symptoms and
bouts of exhaustion were the worst
of it for our crew.
Although we are still analyzing " how " and " where " the virus
unleashed itself on our team,
there are a few things we know
for certain. First and foremost, we
know our protocol is good and
patients were kept safe at all times.
Unfortunately, we let our guard
down in the lunchroom. Although
lunchroom protocol required
spacing and no shared foods, our
team became lax and unguarded
during this brief period of their

hectic day. We now know something as simple as one family dinner
at one restaurant on one night
one week prior led to an exposure
which was then carried unknowingly into our practice and shared
with others.
Could we have done something
better? Sure. Did we learn any
lessons? Yes. But I think lesson is
the wrong word.
The lesson I learned the best is
about the human spirit, and how an
office full of ordinary human beings
can do extraordinary things. I wish
our story was unique and we were
the only ones in all of healthcare
recovering from our own private
pandemic. Unfortunately, it is not.
Unfortunately, this is what it means
to work in the Time of Corona. AE

"

Sometimes
the great-
est acts of
heroism are
happening all
around us.

Ashlie Barefoot Malone,
MBA, JD, COE
(843-797-3676;
abarefoot@
carolinacataract.com), is
practice administrator, Carolina
Cataract & Laser Center, Ladson,
S.C., and a licensed attorney in the
state of South Carolina.

A longer version of this article
has been accepted by the
National Women's History
Museum for inclusion in its
Women Writing History: A
Coronavirus Journaling Project.
The project is an initiative
by the Women's History
Museum designed to ensure
that women's and girls' unique
voices and experiences are not
absent from the telling of the
COVID-19 story. -Ed.

www.asoa.org // AE

17


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AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3

AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover1
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover2
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 1
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 2
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 3
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 4
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - 5
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AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover3
AE May/June 2021 Vol 30 No 3 - Cover4
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