Mark is consultant in charge of the infectious diseases isolation ward at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and has shared a reflection on the current pandemic:
In March 2020, I was already the consultant in charge of the infectious diseases isolation ward at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital when COVID-19 arrived. After my last lecture to the WMS students before lockdown, they asked me to give a brief update about COVID-19 and I was impressed at how everybody stayed behind to listen. Since then I’ve been busy in a wide range of clinical, planning, teaching and research activities that relate to COVID-19 and will write a longer article on this in due course. I will also describe what it is like to become a COVID-19 patient and research subject yourself!
Overall, this pandemic has reminded me of the Ebola virus diseases (EVD) epidemic in West Africa in 2014-15, when I was the infectious diseases physician at the British Army EVD Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone. Managing a new disease requires new knowledge, skills and ways of working, both as individuals and in teams (which may not have worked together before). Furthermore, there is the need to accept constant change in the ways we manage cases as our understanding and the epidemiology of the disease changes. Fortunately, the principles and attitudes that underly good medical practice remain unchanged and just need to be carefully applied to this new situation.
I’ve had a few emails from WMS medical students asking if they could contribute to COVID-19 work somehow and I hope they have managed to find ways in which you can help in the current crisis. New challenges, such as COVID-19, can tell us a lot about ourselves, others and the organisations we work for and we all have a lot to learn from being involved in the current crisis.