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Sometimes “answer the call” means literally answering the call. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called this spring, Julian Williams, RN, CMSRN, FNP-C, Bridge 144, answered. Julian was already on a FEMA assignment at the Woodhull Medical Center of Brooklyn where he was working in the inpatient internal medicine department when the pandemic swept the country and FEMA contacted him for COVID-19 disaster response. He began working at Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing in New York City.
“I came into this position knowing the inherent risks associated with exposure to COVID-19,” Julian said. “I won’t lie and say that I did not have my reservations given my own risk factor — an underlying heart abnormality — but I knew that my training, clinical expertise, and my commitment to healthcare necessitated my need to respond and help my new community. FNU taught me to ‘Answer the Call’ whenever and wherever I am needed. This was no exception. It was my pleasure and duty to respond when called.”
Julian was born in Bridgeport, Conn., but spent most of his youth in North Carolina before moving to New York after college. When he’s not on contract with FEMA, Julian works at South Shore Family Medical Associates in Inwood, NY. There, his scope of practice is within the realm of family medicine. The practice provides preventative health maintenance, chronic disease management, acute illness management, as well as in-house services via specialists. Julian estimates that the typical outpatient volume is 25-plus visits per day.
“Prior to COVID-19, life was a bit simpler,” Julian said. “Besides treatment for the more common viral/bacterial illnesses, and/or chronic disease management, the healthcare burden was not as amplified as it has been recently. Things have certainly improved, but there is not a single day that COVID-19 is not a topic of discussion within our panel of providers. Prior to beginning my current assignment at the post-acute care facility, COVID swept through the facility like a whirlwind; there were some deaths, and we now appear to be on a decline of COVID positive patients. However, our daily discussions focus on COVID case tracking, quarantine protocols, and learning how to better synthesize laboratory data as it pertains to COVID infection and symptom/disease remission.”
In addition to wearing the appropriate PPE, Julian is swabbed twice per week for COVID-19 infection. He credits that diligence and his own personal health routines for helping him to stay healthy thus far.
“I think my judiciousness toward implementing the safety precautions has helped me remain healthy,” Julian said. “However, I still take my daily multivitamins, vitamin B12, Zinc, and Vitamin C for good measure. One cannot be too careful.”
Further precaution includes the FEMA mandate that the healthcare workers stay in a local hotel to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to the public. At Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing, Julian has been working in an inpatient setting as well as in post-acute care.
“FNU prepared me for COVID by equipping me with the clinical knowledge, confidence, and skills necessary to care for the acutely ill during this pandemic,” Julian said. “While I have seen my fair share of deaths due to COVID infection, I would say that my experience has been a bit different, especially in the post-acute care setting, as many of the patients have been COVID positive, but completely asymptomatic and otherwise healthy. I tell my patients that there is still much to learn about COVID-19, and as recommendations change, so will our approach to treatment; however, in the meantime we will continue to focus on tightly managing your chronic conditions, as well as provide evidence-based treatment to mitigate the effects of health decline secondary to COVID.”
While there are still more questions than answers regarding the pandemic, one thing remains clear. When the call for help comes, Julian will be there to answer it.