Houston hospital staff members treating COVID-19 patients over a year without a break

Doctors and nurses at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) have been treating COVID-19 patients for more than a year.

"This has been the longest marathon of work in my life," said Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief Medical Officer at UMMC.

According to Dr. Varon, he and members of their staff have worked 367 days straight treating people sick with the Coronavirus.  Dr. Varon hasn’t had a day off since early March of 2020.

"I’ve always worked hard," said Dr. Varon.  "Thinking I was going to be working inside a COVD unit every single day for 365 days, that’s something I never would have imagined."

Dr. Varon estimates his team has treated roughly 1,000 people sick with COVID-19 since the pandemic started.  A majority of their patients recovered with treatment.  However, some have died.

"The problem is most of these patients die alone in a confined COVID room," said Dr. Varon.  "That has hurt."

"I still cry," said Christina Mathers, a nurse a UMMC.  "We as nurses fight so hard for our patients."

Mathers has treated COVID-19 patients at UMMC since April of 2020.  In July, she became a patient at the hospital when she got sick with the Coronavirus.

"It is lonely," said Mathers.  "It is scary.  To be on both sides of it, it made me stronger as a nurse."

Throughout the last several months, Dr. Varon says they have gone through several ups and downs.  Currently, he estimates their hospital is about 25 percent full.

"We’ve been able to come up with treatment strategies that save lives," said Dr. Varon.

Although the emergence of vaccines and treatment options have decreased the number of patients seeking treatment at UMMC, Dr. Varon and his team continue to treat people very sick with COVID-19 every day.

"We all want normal life," said Mathers.  "I don’t know when that will be."

"There is an end in sight," said Dr. Varon.  "I don’t have a crystal ball of when that might be, but I would say the early part of next year."