Unprecedented times call for unprecedented people. And unprecedented people take unprecedented action. For Dr. Amie Meditz, her actions were rooted in her duty as a physician and her compassion as a human.
COVID-19 has rocked the entire world for over a year. All that humankind knew was turned upside down. Nations were forced to pause, business to close and people to isolate.
Dr. Meditz is an Infectious Diseases physician at Boulder Community Health and the first BCH recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine. She knew at a young age that she was destined for the medical field. At 13-years-old, a physician showed her that she could combine her unique love of science with the power of compassion and connectivity to make a difference in peoples’ lives and health. After graduating from medical school in 1999, the skills she learned and the compassion she possessed were given to the HIV epidemic sweeping the U.S.
“I felt a special connection to people living with HIV and wanted to be part of the fight against that epidemic, so I went into Infectious Diseases as my specialty. In addition, the investigative nature of the specialty was very appealing to me,” says Dr. Meditz.
Fast forward and patients of a now pandemic are receiving her same warmhearted care.
“This is the hardest I’ve worked in my entire career, but it isn’t just me,” says Dr. Meditz. “The entire Infectious Diseases team has been working non-stop to care for people with infections including COVID-19, to adjust safety protocols to keep hospital patients and employees safe, and to identify ways that BCH can improve to better serve our community as it relates to the pandemic.”
Dr. Meditz and her team braced for impact since the beginning, making sure the Boulder community would be best equipped for the fight to come.
“There were many things in short supply at the beginning of this pandemic, but luckily, the BCH leadership team had the foresight well before the pandemic to recruit an experienced team of Infectious Diseases physicians,” says Dr. Meditz.
As the months passed, the somber realization that our best efforts are not always deserving of the outcome we hope for emerged.
“This infection is incredibly humbling for a clinician,” says Dr. Meditz. “The course of the disease can be very unpredictable and available therapies are moderately effective at best. I am reminded of the limits of what we know and what we can do every day, which is very challenging.”
There have been many major advancements to celebrate; however, the significant losses should not be forgotten.
But in the darkness, a light breaks through and the positivity cannot be dimmed.
“One of the most important positives of COVID-19 is the broad recognition that we in the USA can be impacted by a disease that develops in another part of the world,” says Dr. Meditz. “Without that recognition, we will not be prepared for the next pandemic.”
Dr. Meditz also recognized the tremendous community support the team at BCH has felt. She is grateful for the expanded recognition that Infectious Diseases specialists are an important component of hospital and community safety and is an important move forward.
According to Dr. Meditz, we are currently seeing a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“Right now, it is critical we continue to do everything we can to prevent ongoing transmission by using a multilayer approach: wearing masks, distancing, avoiding large gatherings and getting the vaccine when it becomes available to you,” says Dr. Meditz. “One layer is good and more layers are better!”
With the partnership between pharmaceutical companies, more vaccines are starting to appear.
“It is a celebration of science and hope, which is why I wore a sequin top the day I received my vaccine! It is a major step toward reaching the light at the end of this very dark tunnel,” she says.
Dr. Meditz is hopeful that we will reach herd immunity sooner rather than later, but encourages everyone to do their part. Her effort to keep the Boulder community healthy remains her focus.
“I know that BCH will strive to maintain a mindset that keeps us preparing for future pandemics so that we can have a quicker and more organized response. That will be important in making Boulder the healthiest community in the nation,” says Dr. Meditz.
While tragedy can outweigh success, it’s important to highlight the advancements we have made in modern day medicine in light of SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Meditz recognizes five major advancements over this past year that provide hope for the future.
Scientists quickly cracked the genetic code of the virus, and that vital information was shared widely so that testing techniques and vaccines could be developed in countries across the world.
There was intense research that led to a better understanding of how the virus is transmitted and how it affects our bodies.
The extensive collaboration between scientists and medical centers brought many of these advancements to patients much more rapidly than originally expected.
Universal use of masks was unprecedented in the U.S., and mask mandates were met with some resistance. Now, robust studies show that wearing masks has been a key tool in slowing the spread of the virus.
The greatest accomplishment of all has been the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines thanks to scientists, the financial support of the U.S. government, and tens of thousands of study participants.
Boulder Community Health Vaccine Clinic
With the rollout of multiple vaccines comes the challenge of distribution. Phases of distribution can only act as a guideline, it is up to hospitals and clinics to create a system.
Andilyn Brockert is a young mother and one of the masterminds behind the Boulder Community Health Vaccine Clinic at the Della Cava Family Medical Pavilion in Boulder.
Along with coworker, Charlie Jones, Brockert and Jones manage the vaccine clinic and have been able to vaccinate 850 to 1,000 patients a day and are currently working towards 1,500 patients.
“We started off very small, with 100-200 patients per day. We were nervous about making sure we were giving the best experience possible to our community,” Brockert says. “Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it took an amazing collaborative team to build a successful vaccination clinic, especially for such an important milestone in history!”
The clinic is an experience unlike any other, tailoring to the age of patients by playing into their generation with music from Frank Sinatra, then moving to Stevie Nicks and so on.
“Once the vaccine is administered, we send them to our “Relaxation Station” to listen to some music while we monitor them for any immediate side effects. Then off they go with a little more protection and bounce in their step,” Brockert says.
“I have been amazed at the joy that all of these people bring to the clinic every day,” Jones says. “We often comment that it is the happiest place in town.”
Amid the darkness, COVID-19 has brought to light new appreciation toward things we may have taken for granted before.
“The appreciation for each other is the biggest positive I see, both worldwide and in our community,” Brockert says. “Here is to this next year being one of hope, comfort, healing, understanding, remembering and just enjoying all that we have.”
Brockert encourages people to sign up for MyBCH, an online patient portal through BCH. This is the easiest way to be notified when you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and how you can schedule your appointment.