Elizabeth Clayborne, M.D., an emergency room physician at the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, is answering her calling: treating sick people. What’s unique about her situation is that she’s on the front lines, battling coronavirus while seven months pregnant.
“We’re very busy,” she told the Washington, D.C., NBC affiliate earlier this month. “We definitely in the last week have seen an increased number of acutely ill patients, people coming in, respiratory distress.”
To make matters worse, the hospital is short staffed.
“Right now, we’re bracing ourselves for the storm we think is coming upon us,” she said. “We’re currently seeing an increased number of COVID positive patients.”
But she plans to keep plying her trade as long as she can. “It’s definitely scary being a pregnant mother. I also have a young daughter, a 17-month-old, at home. So every time I come home I am taking a risk,” she said.
In the midst of so many critically ill patients, Dr. Clayborne offered this advice from her perspective as an ER doctor on the front lines: Make a plan for how you want to be treated if you become critically ill.
“I really wanted to bring some awareness to some important topics that haven’t been as well covered in the media, that are really being highlighted by this crisis,” she said, “and that is advanced care planning and for people to start thinking about what they would want done if they become acutely ill.”
This advice isn’t just for the elderly or those with underlying conditions. “Anyone, even young people, can make an advanced care plan,” Clayborne said. “Make sure it is clear and specific. You don’t want your family to be burdened trying to make decisions for you in a crisis.”
For people who haven’t already made their wants clear, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has online resources to help create a living will. Or go to My Directives to search online for state-specific resources.