“The people that go around saying, ‘I don’t have to wear a mask,’ if they had family that works in a hospital, that take care of COVID patients, they might feel differently,” said Cokie Giles, a nurse at EMMC who is president of the Maine State Nurses Association, a union representing almost 2,000 health care workers. “They might have to consider if they have a heart attack and they have to go to the hospital and find out there are no beds because there are COVID-19 patients. They need to stretch their imaginations a little bit.”
Dr. Brandon Giberson, a 33-year-old emergency room physician who primarily works at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, said that he initially worried about catching the coronavirus while treating patients. That’s partly because his twin brother Tyler, who also is an ER doctor, became very sick with COVID-19 last May while finishing his medical residency at a hospital in Georgia. He suffered 31 straight days of fever and briefly had to be hospitalized, but has since recovered.
As an ER doctor, Giberson is typically responsible for intubating the sickest COVID-19 patients, a risky process that requires sticking breathing tubes down their throats, which can cause viral droplets to spray around the room. He must also ensure that more stable patients can be safely sent home.
Giberson — who is employed by a Brunswick-based physician staffing company called BlueWater Health and has also done shifts at hospitals in Houlton and Augusta — said that he now feels well protected by the respirator masks, face shields, gowns, gloves and other protective equipment he must wear in the hospital, and that he is more concerned about the risks of running into maskless people at the grocery store.