In this challenging time, every small action can have significant meaning, helping us reconnect and progress in times of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world; rather than breaking us apart, it helps people unite. As every country around the world grappled to contain the pandemic, lockdown and other restrictions were put in place, which affected every aspect of our lives.
Even though restrictions were put in place to contain the virus, the pandemic still ravaged. As a result, over 400,000 people have died from COVID-19 related complications. As many people gladly embrace the work-from-home option and adhere to the social distance rules to avoid exposure to the virus, healthcare providers are bravely leading the charge. Even with the looming exposure threat, they have been providing care to patients to the best of their ability. Even though some of their colleagues are becoming infected and dying from COVID-19 related complications, these amazing heroes decided to put their lives on the line honoring their oaths in a time of great need.
“[During the lockdown] many businesses closed, but we didn’t because we do emergency care for people who have trauma, and we attended to other things that need to be addressed. Since the hospitals were busy at the time, we got the approval to work. We focused on emergency cases during the time. ” Dr. Alena disclosed while recounting her experience during the lockdown.
Dr. Alena Butkevica, a Dental Surgeon, CEO, and leading researcher at AB BioInnovations in Huntington Station, New York, started practicing over 30 years ago. The Latvian relocated to the United States in 1998 to learn dental implants hoping to provide care to people experiencing different dental complications. Dr. Alena ended up in Boston University for her postgraduate training in Prosthodontics and Implantology, and she has performed over fifteen thousand surgical procedures.
While discussing the COVID-19 impact on her practice with TopDoctor Magazine, the award-winning physician said, “Absolutely, we have always been making changes to make sure that patients are safe. As we were trained, every patient presents a threat of infection like hepatitis, HIV, and AIDS. We are always very cautious to protect ourselves and the patients from cross-contamination. Therefore, we were always prepared even before COVID-19. There are rules and regulations like measuring temperature and all. Also, everything is tested and sterilized, and we have a system where people only go one way, meaning patients will come in one way and exit the other way to avoid contact.”
Even though they have a 15-minute timeframe to disinfect everything in the room before attending to the next patient, Dr. Alena told us that her staff’s stress has been immense. “We never had such long breaks in-between patients, now my doctors and I have a lot of free time between patients. But we still have to keep ourselves safe by wearing a mask. To avoid exposure to COVID-19, now, we wear masks, face shields, and magnifying globes. Actually, working the whole day with the mask, face shield, and magnifying globes is now difficult because protective gear makes it difficult to breathe. At the end of the day, everyone has circles under their eyes as a result of the stress. I made a decision that every doctor should work one day less so that they can recover from the stress.”
While still facing uncertainties, Dr. Alena was continually brainstorming ways to help people and provide the best care to her patients during her free time.
“[During the lockdown] practice slowed down tremendously because people don’t go out for treatment as long as they are not desperately in need of surgery or treatment, which is good for me because I could concentrate my energy and time towards research. You know, apart from the social distancing and not being able to do surgical work, this pandemic time, for me, has been very productive because I was laser-focused on what I was doing pre-pandemic. In this kind of time when I can’t go out and do so much, I can use the time to do research and development, intellectual properties, product development. All these take time, and this is the best time to do it. I didn’t rest at all. All the time I had was spent on creative work.”
While expressing optimism regarding the monumental effort on the successful work on vaccine development, Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said, “This is the weapon that is going to win the war.” Although the vaccine is an outstanding achievement, it is only the first step in a global mass immunization process that will not instantly end the pandemic. Even though the vaccine will help control the infection’s harmful effects and limit its spread, bringing the virus under control will likely take a few years.
Vaccination is a part of a multi-faceted public response to the emergence of pandemic illness. Pandemic diseases have swept through the human population since the beginning of time. For example, the bubonic plague, also known as Black Death, killed about 75 million people in Europe in the 1300s, while the 1918-1919 influenza killed 50-70 million people globally. Researchers are known to develop influenza vaccines to mitigate the spread of a circulating virus but never before in the history of pandemics have researchers been caught off-guard, as we saw during COVID-19.
“I agree that a vaccine is one great way to avoid COVID-19. What if there is COVID-20, for example? We don’t have a new vaccine. We might have COVID today, but we don’t know what will happen in January or what the next virus will be. Is it going to be a mutation of COVID or a new virus? We have flu shots every year because we do have flu every year. Every year we do have a different virus. It is very good if we could predict the next virus that will be out in the air,” she said.
Dr. Alena further explained: “Apart from having a vaccine, we know that every year we have a new virus. There are many different viruses; every winter comes with a different virus. People have predicted COVID, but we don’t know exactly what will happen.”
Even though the vaccine will be a great help, Dr. Alena said that everybody’s primary duty is to stay healthy: “The body’s natural defense mechanism, which is typically strong, can fight. Statistically, most people who died of COVID had some other additional existing health problems. What I am seeing from a general medical standpoint is the need to eat good food, stay warm, and have a lot of sleep. The less stress there is, the higher the body’s self-defense level. If you are completely exhausted, and you run yourself down with stress, you are much likely to get infected rather than if you are healthy, sleep well, and eat healthy and proper nourishing food. These are general basic health rules which apply to everybody at any circumstances. People who maintain this kind of balance in their life are healthier, and others who don’t subject their bodies to disharmony, which makes them susceptible to health challenges. The major message right now for everybody is that you should keep yourself healthy.”
Before responding to the question regarding her plans for the New Year, Dr. Alena sighed and told us that she had so much to do that she couldn’t remember when she last had a vacation.
“Right now, I am working on a broad spectrum of antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory products. For example, we are doing final testing for psoriasis cream before it will be made available for public use once it is ready. ” Dr. Alena’s dedication and selfless effort to provide care throughout the lockdown period is a testament to how we should admire our physicians for their sacrifices. “Knowing that I can help people avoid suffering is a huge motivation for me to keep going.” Dr. Alena concluded.