In uncertain times, Mainers always come together

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As healthcare workers, we are doing what we have been trained to do — what comes instinctively to the many who have heard a calling to care for their fellow human beings. COVID-19 has a lot of unknowns and is still evolving. Those in healthcare are navigating a delicate balance between being there for our families and answering our call of duty to care for our communities — consciously separating ourselves from our loved ones, as our care of others puts those close to us at higher risk of exposure. While we know it is for the best, it’s a tough sacrifice.


However, we are inspired as we work to meet the challenge before all of us. We are inspired by the support of our communities, the courage of our patients, and the dedication of the care team we work with every day. For many of us, the hours have been long as we care for our patients and plan for the many challenges still to come, but through the difficulty we remain hopeful. 


We are hopeful because we are in this together. 


As Northern Light Health, we are more than 12,000 dedicated individuals who rally together to combat this insidious, invisible virus. Every day, new circumstances arise and priorities shift, but we adapt, using evidence-based data and science as our guiding principle to try to predict what may lay right around the corner. Between patient visits, we stand together united on multiple calls a day, starting at dawn and lasting well into the evening hours to plan for the days ahead. This planning has asked of us to push the traditional boundaries of healthcare. 


While we continue to care for each patient with compassion, the response to this pandemic calls us to develop new protocols and provide that care in new, innovative ways. It also asks us to think differently about how we use our supplies and designate our response teams. There is a learning curve, but we thank each of our Northern Light Health colleagues in Maine, as each new advance we develop brings us closer to conquering this unprecedented public health crisis. 


People in our communities also continuously feed our hope and optimism and keep us going. Mainers have rolled up their sleeves and rallied together in support of each other and for all of us in healthcare. Whether it’s a homemade sign of encouragement, the donation of personal protective equipment, or the offering of therapeutic socks for teams spending long hours on the floor, we are so appreciative of the hundreds of community members who have reached out. 


Thank you. We appreciate you recognizing us and letting us know our efforts are worthwhile. 


We are hopeful and inspired, but the fight is not done. We know you are also weary and anxious. We hear your concern and understand your frustration — but we urge you to remain vigilant. There will be a temptation to drop in and visit with a close friend or share coffee with a neighbor. And, while we all want to do these things that were once part of our daily lives, we ask that you continue to do those things at a safe distance. Your decision to not visit a vulnerable loved one could save their life. We understand the sacrifice, but the more we all do what is necessary now, the sooner we will be back to our routines that we so dearly miss. We want that for you, and we want that for all of us in healthcare who are trying to remain steadfast so that we may be there for you when you need us most.


You also may be confused by mixed messages that may be circulating on social media or other forums. This can be scary, but remember to seek guidance from credible sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and your own providers. We’re here to help. Don’t be led astray by the not-so-helpful rumor mill.


And, finally, don’t give up. We speak for so many of us in healthcare when we say have hope, stay strong, and remain vigilant. Together, we will get through this.


Karl-Heinz Spittler is chief of anesthesiology at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. Gavin Ducker is a family physician, senior physician executive and vice president of medical affairs at Northern Light Inland Hospital. They are co-presidents of the Northern Light Medical Group.

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