‘Walking into the unknown’

Every day Dr. Shakera Carroll goes to work at the Elizabeth Estates Clinic, she said, she’s “walking into the unknown”. 

“Generally speaking, we don’t know who comes to the clinic because someone can be an asymptomatic carrier and we just don’t know, and we won’t know until they present with symptoms or they happen to get tested,” Carroll said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday. 

Last month, the Elizabeth Estates Clinic was temporarily closed for cleaning after a worker was identified as “a possible contact or COVID-19 case”, according to the Ministry of Health.

Although the clinic is not being used as a COVID-19 treatment center, Carroll noted: “There have been instances where suspected cases have made their way to the clinics and they were managed with the assistance of the surveillance team.”

She added, “We do wear our PPEs (personal protective equipment) for that reason because we don’t know…if we’re going to have a suspected case.

“We don’t know if they’re going to be an asymptomatic case. We don’t know if they’re going to come for something unrelated and then end up with a positive screening test when they come in to the clinic.

“So, we have to take those precautions.”

Carroll said that the PPE she wears is not as intensive as a doctor working at the COVID-19 center, noting that it only takes her about five minutes to don the gear, which is kept at the clinic. 

But for her, returning home at the end of her shift to a household with a senior – a person at high risk for COVID-19 – and taking steps to disinfect, is the more intensive part of her new daily life. 

“The disinfectant methods that were recommended, those are things I adhere to,” Carroll said.

“So, everything comes off at the door. Things are sprayed down, wiped down and put in storage, kept away from other items and that’s the daily routine whenever I am [working].

“And then on the weekend, all the clothes that I’ve worn for the past week at work, I wash those separately.”

She added, “It’s a head-to-toe…with my glasses, my phone, my keys, my shoes definitely [and] like I said, the clothing I keep separate.

“So, again, another 10 minutes or so to separate everything and disinfect.”

Carroll said adjusting to this new way of life has been “frustrating” at times, but that she’s happy to be among the healthcare workers doing their part to protect the nation. 

“Following the same steps can be challenging at times because you have to do it over and over and over again,” she said.

“But you understand the importance of the steps because if you don’t follow that then you’re defeating the purpose of trying to prevent the infection from spreading, if it is present.”

Carroll added, “In our setting, we have healthcare workers who would be considered at higher risk…and we’re all still there performing our duties because we recognize the national importance of it and the need to have healthcare workers onboard, especially when there are instances when others have to be placed in quarantine. Someone has to fill that gap.

“And so, as a family physician, I’m happy to be part of that, even with the challenges that it presents sometimes.”

Carroll also said she’s “very proud” of physicians working all over the country in all lines of duty “for their diligent work” during the pandemic. 

“I’m thankful to my colleagues for being a part of the crisis response,” she said. 

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