Faces of the Frontlines: Physician looks to help hospitalized patients navigate crisis
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Physician Mysha Mason grew up with a love for skiing and outdoor-minded resort communities, so when she got the chance to come to Steamboat Springs a little more than three years ago to work for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, it was an easy choice.
“I grew up in Maine and Vancouver, British Columbia, so ski towns have always been near and dear to my heart,” Mason said. “I was lucky enough to be recruited by our former Chief Medical Officer Lisa Kettering a few years back, and I decided to jump at the chance to be part of a small community again in such a beautiful place.”
These days Mason finds herself on the frontlines as one of two hospitalists helping patients who are admitted to the hospital navigate the uncertain times as she continues to provide care and look after the well-being of the community.
“As a physician, I’ve always tended to be the kind of doctor who sits down at the bedside and maybe holds your hand,” Mason said. “I want to have that kind of one-on-one physical interaction.”
But now with the COVID-19 pandemic touching every town and hospital in the country, she and the hospital have had to recalibrate.
She has so far been involved in the care of all the locally hospitalized patients with COVID-19. To work with those patients safely, the hospital has converted half of the patient care unit into a negative pressure isolation unit used exclusively for patients with COVID-19. That effort is to protect other patients from exposure and ensure the hospital is providing the most appropriate possible care.
“It’s been really incredible to watch the whole hospital come together over the past few months and to develop new processes and protocols to help safely care for our patients while also keeping our staff safe,” Mason said. “Day-to-day life looks a little bit different here in the hospital. We’re always wearing the masks and being more cautious and carefully observing physical distancing.”
This has resulted in a change in how Mason has approached her job but not in the level of care she hopes to provide.
“One of our new practices is calling into the patient’s rooms much more often, and we’re working on getting the ability to have handheld tablets for video conferencing so that even if we’re not physically in the room with them, we’re still interacting with them multiple times a day,” Mason said. “Right now, since we have a restriction on our visitor policy, we’re being very careful to reach out to as many family members by phone each day to keep them in the loop as well.”
Mason knows that being in the hospital is often stressful and scary, and worse when family members can’t visit. She is doing her best to ease those feelings and be there for her patients.
“My role really has not changed significantly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “I continue to provide care to all patients in the Patient Care Unit and Intensive Care Unit. Obviously the intensity of care has increased over the past few months but other than that, it hasn’t really had a significant change in my role.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Sheila Symons’ son got COVID-19 around Labor Day. He has since missed about five weeks of school, spent five days at Children’s Hospital in Aurora and has seen more doctors than an 11-year-old child should.