Inside a Colorado coronavirus ward: The frightening reality for doctors as first cases arrive | AspenTimes.com

Inside a Colorado coronavirus ward: The frightening reality for doctors as first cases arrive

A Denver Health physician describes her first week with confirmed and suspected patients, and her isolating routine at home

Denver Health medical professionals took a break from work in the COVID-19 ward to take a selfie last week. They are, from left to right, physician assistants Janice Van Bockern and Becky Gallardo, Dr. Lilia Cervantes, and Dr. David Mintzer.
Lilia Cervantes/Courtesy Photo

The night before Dr. Lilia Cervantes started work in the COVID-19 ward at Denver Health, she went online to make a will. 

It was hard to sleep, her mind stuck on what would happen to her two young daughters and her husband, who has asthma, if she were to become infected with the new coronavirus and expose them.

Cervantes, an internal medicine hospitalist at Denver Health, was scared. She got through her first week of service in the ward by isolating herself from her family in the master bedroom and following a careful regimen that included touching the doorknobs in her house only when she was holding a disinfecting wipe. She also bawled her eyes out in her car as she drove home each night.

“It scares me that at the end of all this we all might know two or three people that died from this. That makes me really sad,” said Cervantes, who is 41, a long-distance runner and a researcher who has specialized in kidney disease. She spoke to The Colorado Sun after her first week in the ward. “It scares me that I could leave my children. I want to be here. I don’t want to be gone.

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