Dr. Jessica Kiss’ twin girls cry most mornings when she goes to work. They’re 9, old enough to know she could catch the coronavirus from her patients and get so sick she could die.
Kiss shares that fear, and worries at least as much about bringing the virus home to her family — especially since she depends on a mask more than a week old to protect her.
“I have four small children. I’m always thinking of them,” said the 37-year-old California family physician, who has one daughter with asthma. “But there really is no choice. I took an oath as a doctor to do the right thing.”
Kiss’ concerns are mirrored by dozens of physician parents from around the nation in an impassioned letter to Congress begging that the remainder of the relevant personal protective equipment be released from the Strategic National Stockpile, a federal cache of medical supplies, for those on the front lines.
They join a growing chorus of American health care workers who say they’re battling the virus with far too little armor as shortages force them to reuse personal protective equipment, known as PPE, or rely on homemade substitutes. Sometimes they must even go without protection altogether.
“We are physically bringing home bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Hala Sabry, an emergency medicine physician outside Los Angeles who founded the Physician Moms Group on Facebook, which has more than 70,000 members. “We need PPE, and we need it now. We actually needed it yesterday.”