South Bend Clinic doctor: Keep safety of local health care workers 'in your mind and actions'

Dr. Brian Huber is medical director of the Immediate Care Center at The South Bend Clinic.

“You do know that once I do this test, if the results are positive, you and your whole family will need to be quarantined?”

To be honest, I do not remember how many times I’ve posed this question over the past few weeks. As I sit here on day two of my own quarantine, I am viewing these words in an entirely different context.

Even a few weeks ago, nobody thought that we all would be confined to our own homes, unable to go out to the store, or run over to the neighbors to say hello. Yet here I am sitting in my bedroom trying to figure out where I now fit into this complex social crisis.

Being on the front lines from the beginning of our community’s COVID-19 response, I hadn’t really considered my own health and well-being.

However, once the crisis was at our front doors, new thoughts began to creep into my head. Would I get infected? Would my family get infected? Would my neighbors get infected?

Although these thoughts are very much at the forefront of all our minds, health care workers throughout Michiana have continued to show up day after day — working with patients who are sick and, in the process, placing themselves in situations that could lead to infection.

We know what we need to do to protect ourselves, yet we cannot fully do so with all the shortages of protective equipment and other challenges.

The messages of support for our health care providers I’ve seen in our community have been amazing, but what some of these same people may not realize is that they may also be putting us at risk for infection.

That’s why I am writing this letter to the community. I wanted to reach as many of my neighbors and friends as possible to let them know the urgency of the situation.

Throughout my years practicing medicine here in Michiana, I have connected with many of you. Today’s message is this: Keep us in your thoughts. Keep us in your prayers. But also keep the safety of our local health care providers in your mind and actions.

Medicine has been fundamentally altered in the past three weeks. Everything is new and different. Screeners are working all over town and health advisories continue to become more and more strict.

However, your local health care professionals are not only doing this to protect you, but also to assure our own health and that of our families.

Every one of us, from the doctors on the front line to your friends who may be manning the coronavirus hotline, is critical to attacking this problem head on and making sure this virus does the least amount of damage to our community.

Every time one of us gets infected, we have one less fighter in the battle against this threat to your health and well-being.

I have personally had to place my colleagues on quarantine and then, two days ago, it became necessary to put myself in quarantine.

In many cases, these situations were just a matter of unfortunate luck, but some have been the result of people not observing safety guidelines and taking those rules seriously. For example, not being totally honest with our screeners places all of us in danger.

In addition, breaking quarantine for any reason short of a medical emergency puts every one of us at risk.

I am taking this opportunity to plead with you as a member of our community to take this crisis seriously. Listen to us! Trust in us!

We are working as hard as we can, and as much as we can, to protect each and every one of you. This virus will affect our community in ways that we have not seen before. The ultimate impact on our community will depend on how seriously we all take our current situation.

For my part, I will continue to work with The South Bend Clinic team and our news media partners to get as much information as possible to our community in the coming weeks.

Again, please trust your local health teams. Follow the rules we have developed to ensure we are all safe. Working together is the only way we are going to succeed in protecting the communities we call home.