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Tulsa doctor recounts one experience of being in the trenches of the COVID-19 battle

Posted at 12:06 AM, Mar 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 14:14:05-05

TULSA, Okla. — Saturday marked one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Oklahoma, a moment that changed the world forever.

The past year has been very difficult for many people, especially for those battling COVID-19 from the frontlines.

“You kind of viewed it as being in the military, you’d signed up for this never necessarily expecting to wind up in this situation, but when you get here this is what you do and we’re going to provide what care we would to any other patient," Dr. Adam Betz, Director of Pulmonary Ecmo at the Oklahoma Heart Institute.

Dr. Betz is one of the doctors who treated the first COVID-19 patitent in their hospital.

“With the first one it was definitely scary because we’d seen everything kind of heading our way internationally,” he said.

When the world sounded the alarm on the seriousness of the virus he knew the world would change, but it was until he saw the first patient that he understood the full scope of the new reality.

“When we finally got our first one and you know all of the sudden to see her you’re putting on the layers and layers of gear and going into these heavy isolation rooms and knowing that it means you really can’t go into the community afterwards it was this feeling you know that here it goes it’s not going to be the same for a long time after this,” Dr. Betz said.

His unit focuses on treating COVID-19 patients who failed all other form of treatment. The past year has been unlike any other he's experienced in his career. He and his team have been battling in the trenches of what he says felt like a never ending battle.

"You’d have this group of people where you know 60 percent of them will survive and 40 percent won’t make it and you have a wait list that just keeps growing every day three, four, five patients on it and then every morning when you call to check up on those patients on the wait list you hear two or three of them dying while waiting for a spot,” he said.

Too tough to even describe.

“That’s hard to put into words honestly, I’ve tried to do it with friends several times over the last few months or year,” Dr. Betz said.

While the past year has not been easy, Dr. Betz said he is hopeful vaccinations will help get the virus under control.

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