March 2020

Tim Talks with Dr. Tim Williamson

BLOG / Tim Talks with Dr. Tim Williamson

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We are incredibly grateful to have such a passionate, esteemed core of medical volunteers that spearhead the Ubuntu Life Foundation health programs in Kenya. The pool of wisdom that they are able to share with us during unstable times is invaluable so we wanted to pass that along to our global Tribe.

So we would like for formally introduce everyone to Dr. Tim Williamson! Dr. Williamson serves on the Ubuntu Life Foundation Board and has been bringing teams of medical volunteers to Kenya for over 10 years. He also happens to be the Physician Vice President of Quality and Safety at the University of Kansas Health System and is in the middle of preparation and response to this global pandemic. In his regular ‘Tim Talks,’ he will share updates about what he has learned about the virus, what to worry about and not worry about, new ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, insight into the health community and the heroes who are leading the charge, and general wisdom and thoughts about the current state of affairs.

Hello, Ubuntu Tribe, and welcome to my Tim Talk. Earlier on social media I referenced that I'm allegedly "senior faculty." While I'm not old, and there are a lot of folks WAY more senior than me, I've been in medicine a fairly long time. May will mark 25 years of being a physician/29 years of medicine including medical school.

For anyone who says this is just like XXXXXXX, I'm not buying it. This is different. I've lived through the tail of the HIV epidemic (still had inpatient wards for HIV during medical school), H1N1, MARS, SERS, Y2K (As a fellow I watched NYE fireworks from the MICU waiting to see if all the vents would stop working. They didn't...), multiple iterations of Britany Spears, Milli Vanelli, and parachute pants. For everyone who says we have lived through multiple end of the world scenarios, this is different.

Here are a few thoughts for you today - I will share them as often as I can.

‘Tim Talks Top Ten’ in no particular order:

  1. If you've ever seen video of the tide rapidly receding prior to a tsunami, that's what it kind of feels like at work. You can tell something big is happening, and we are bracing for the wave. We're about two weeks from the surge. Doing everything we can to get ready.
  2. I've heard several people use the word surreal today. As visiting policies change, fewer patients are at the hospital and many are working from home, the hospital has an eerie calm in many places (others, of course, like the ER still very busy!).
  3. Stolen shamelessly from a couple of wise colleagues, but all of us have gone through a very rapid and unexpected transition, almost universally associated with some degree of loss, or at minimum radical change. Whatever you're feeling is ok. Anxiety, anger, sadness, pride, joy-- it's all ok. Give yourself a little time and our feelings will evolve as we settle into our interim reality.
  4. The virus has further exposed our shortcomings and vulnerabilities as a society. Leading the pack is the fact that children may not eat because school is closed. Read that again - children may not eat because school is closed.
  5. Cycle time for change is markedly less than cycle times for communication. And rumor is a powerful adversary.
  6. Ummmmmmmmm, please don't steal stuff. Seriously. Just don't.
  7. Given the degree of community spread locally where I am, testing strategies have changed. Testing resources are overwhelmed, and if you're not sick enough to be in the hospital, it won't change your management. For many places, including ours, if you have symptoms of fever, cough and might have Covid, you'll be asked to go home and quarantine until your symptoms go away. Testing will only be done for those sick enough to be in the hospital. Don't take Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
  8. Those of you who experienced 9/11 remember the camaraderie and how people came together to make things happen. Big things in short time frames. Even in our early days, it's amazing to see the collaboration and how quickly folks go from "can't" to "we'll figure out a way". In the past couple of days I've seen an admit order set go in production in 24 hours, an entire 12 bed addition to the ER built in 48 hours, and a projected two year telemedicine project implemented in two days. There are amazing things being done by amazing people.
  9. The most amazing people are all the docs, nurses, pharmacists, environmental services folks, techs, and a gazillion other people who are on the front lines taking care of patients in very trying times. Thank you!
  10. On the drive in to work this morning, I started seeing more signs of Spring. Nature is about to remind us of the cycles of rebirth. There are tough times ahead, but after them, we will rise and find new beauty as we emerge from our Winter. (Yeah.... I know.... that was really corny.... )

Keep taking care of each other, wash your hands, and stay healthy!



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