Brazil husband-wife doctors fight virus at work, home
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by Florence Goisnard
Neither of the Sztajnboks is getting much sleep these days.
Dr. Jacques Sztajnbok, head of intensive care at one of the main coronavirus hospitals in Sao Paulo, Brazil, says the stress of being on the front line of the pandemic often wakes him up in the middle of the night.
His wife, Dr. Fabiane Sztajnbok, an infectious disease specialist in the hospital’s emergency room, says the same.
He spends his sleepless hours trawling through scientific studies, hoping to find something that will “add a piece to the COVID-19 puzzle,” he said.
She awakens simply because she is “worried and anxious,” she said.
The Sztajnboks work at the Emilio Ribas Infectious Disease Institute in Brazil’s biggest city, the epicenter of COVID-19 in Latin America.
The pandemic has changed life in big and small ways for their family of four.
Jacques, 55, and Fabiane, 47, no longer hug or kiss their children when they get home. Instead, they first shed their potentially contaminated clothes and head straight for the shower.
Jacques has not taken a day off since mid-March.
“I’m responsible not only for my patients’ health, but that of my team,” he said.
His intensive care unit’s 11 beds have been full since mid-April, all with COVID-19 patients.
On average, one has been dying each day.
Several of his colleagues have also gotten sick.
“Whenever my phone rings, I think, ‘Do we have another doctor who’s gotten sick?’ And that’s a worry we’ve never had before, even in other epidemics,” he said. (AFP)