Emergency room doctor documents her life on the front lines of the pandemic

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — For months now, Dr. Marina Del Rios has been working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the emergency room at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. 

During a recent 10-hour shift she documented her experiences, from treating a patient brought in with dangerously low oxygen levels to leaving with bruises on her face from wearing an N95 mask all day. 

She said most in healthcare feel guilty when they have to step aside, knowing that someone else who’s also overworked will have to step in.

“For me there are some days when I park my car outside of my garage and cry,” she said. 

Often working extra hours, Del Rios said her husband and kids have learned the routine once she finally gets home.

“I make a dash for the laundry room and then the shower when I walk in,” she said.

She said she has been tested seven times for the virus and quarantined several others.  There are no exceptions for the rules, as five of her friends have lost parents to Covid already.

“And you start wondering, ‘is my family going to be next’?” she said.

Dr. Del Rios will be working Thanksgiving night, and while the staff would traditionally bring in food and share meals, she said that’s not happening this year.

Instead, they expect emergency room admissions to be higher than in years past, and possibly even higher in the months that follow.

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