DR. SPENCER REQUA AND THE BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19By Anne Reneslacis
Dr. Spencer Requa ‘12 graduated from TCU and went on to medical school at University of North Texas Health Science Center. He is currently in his third year as an emergency medicine resident in Corpus Christi, Texas. This is his final year of training, and he will hold his first attending job this summer.
“My time at TCU helped me to think beyond my immediate circle. I gained a larger perspective which has helped me as a physician in general, but doubly so during this global pandemic,” Requa said.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Requa has worked in the emergency department, the medical ICU and the emergency department of a local children’s hospital. Currently, the hospital where Requa works has restricted visitors to one per patient, and they are required to be screened prior to entry. There are specific plans in place to change these policies as the number of cases increase at the hospital. All employees are screened for temperature and respiratory symptoms as they enter each day.
While Requa’s hospital is waiting for an influx of cases, there is a fear and uncertainty in the air. Despite this helpless feeling, Requa took note of the more positive changes. “The other side of that fear is the immense respect and fondness for my colleagues. The entire team of nurses, doctors, and technicians that I work with have beyond impressed me. Their ingenuity in creating ways to help our patients astounds me,” Requa said.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Texas is currently at its peak case load. However, as restrictions are eased, many health officials expect multiple waves of disease resurgence. “The good news is, we’ve developed strong protocols and PPE supply chains, so I expect us to handle these well,” Requa said.
Requa shared the story about his first encounter with a COVID person under investigation (PUI) patient in the ICU. He took time to dress properly in PPE attire, saying that, “there was something palpably different about this disease, maybe how terrifyingly contagious it is, that made me want to get it right.” He then entered the dark room. “The only sound was the continuous hiss of my patient’s oxygen mask,” Requa said. “Seeing this patient was like looking in a mirror. He was around my age, otherwise healthy. But he couldn’t breathe. In the end, he did well. But it brought this disease into perspective for me. It does not discriminate. I could have been in that bed just as easily.”
While Requa’s work routine has remained relatively unchanged, his home routine has changed drastically. “Protecting my wife and daughter is my main priority through this,” Requa said. “My scrubs and shoes are removed outside then immediately placed in the washer, and I go shower before touching anyone.” Requa said some of his friends who are taking it a step further and living in a different house than their families.
Requa shared some advice for people during this time. “I would advise people to take time to evaluate all the information about the current pandemic, the virus itself and its effects on our world. Rumors are always abundant during situations like this, and they can have disastrous consequences. Sadly, many more people will die from this illness, and false information will only increase that number,” Requa said. “Also, wash your hands!”