Reno physician reflects on her work with COVID patients and family

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 1:57 PM PDT
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“I'm glad to be back, don't get me wrong,” says Dr. Daryl Fenio of her return home to Reno.

She’s been back for about a month and has time to think about her experiences at three New Jersey hospitals attending to COVID patients.

“So much suffering and death,” she says. “And I think that mainly it is just hard to leave patients and families that you've taken care of for so long,” says Dr. Fenio.

Dr. Fenio says she decided to go back east during the height of the coronavirus pandemic because she could.

She says she knew it would be difficult, but she never imagined just how difficult.

The disease, she says, is merciless.

Not just its impact on patients' bodies, but the way it treated the patients families who are not allowed to see their loved ones during treatment, or worse yet, at the time of death.

“You are doing your best to take care of these critically ill patients,” she says of the day-in day-out work at the hospitals.

Dr. Fenio says she felt a grave responsibility to be the conduit between the family and patient.

Normally she says family members can be there to see what's going on. With COVID, she had to relay all information--sometimes to families where English might be a second language.

Upon her return and reflection, she wonders who is doing that now.

She knows it is being done, but she still gets calls from families asking her to convey medical jargon into easy to understand terms.

“I am working with someone who is going to help me figure out how to detach from that experience to feel like I am done,” says Dr. Fenio. “I've done what I can do. And that this is part of my experience. But it is not going to be part of my ongoing thing that I need to think about all the time,” she says.

While she made friends and feels a sense of accomplishment for her month's worth of work in New Jersey, Dr. Fenio says she is happy to be back.

Particularly among co-workers who she knows and loves, and who have welcomed her with open arms.

That, she says, has let her safely dock after what was a life changing journey.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020

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