PHOENIX — It's a moment that has stuck with Dr. Jennifer O'Hea for months. The day two family members battling COVID-19 at the same hospital, were finally back together.
"The day that I wheeled her in to see her niece, they were both reuniting to not only see each other alive but to talk about the death of two other family members from the virus," said Dr. O'Hea. "It was this extremely joyful yet so sad reunion, and it really summed up so much of the pandemic."
From inside a Banner Hospital, Dr. O'Hea has ridden the waves of this virus. A time of both relief and pain being lived out by so many under her care.
She's seen it at its worst, the limited beds and ventilators, the death and heartache.
It's a very different picture than what she sees now.
"It is definitely better, we are certainly emerging from our surge and the number of COVID patients is way down," said Dr. O'Hea.
She's putting on her Personal Protective Equipment less frequently because of it and sees a change in our community as well.
"The masking has been crucial and I can see that people are doing it now and that combined distancing has shut this down," said Dr. O'Hea.
But, with that breathing room comes concern despite all they've learned to adapt to over the last six months.
"I do worry about our Labor Day weekend coming up and the fact that many kids are going back to school right after the Labor Day weekend so this is a really important holiday weekend for people to not let our guard down," said Dr. O'Hea, adding the hospital system is fully prepared to scale up if necessary.
That's important because businesses hit hard by the pandemic are now opening up and in-person learning is underway at many schools across the Valley.
It's their education and our communities' livelihoods on the line this time around.
"If we can do those things, take these precautions and keep the numbers manageable, then it will be so easy for schools and businesses to quarantine small clusters, contact trace small numbers of people," said Dr. O'Hea.