Dr. Breazzano discusses the professional challenges and personal effects he faced during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Breazzano, MD: I think the pandemic, I would say professionally and personally was definitely scary in the beginning.
I do feel like, in some ways, it was a little bit of a unique experience. As I was finishing up my fellowship in New York City, was one of the early hotspots of the pandemic in the United States, certainly, there were other hotspots around the same time, including Italy and other places that were hit particularly hard. And we still didn't really understand that much of the virus back then. And so going and treating these patients, I think, was obviously, as ophthalmologists, we're not necessarily in the COVID wards, although some of my colleagues certainly did get pulled to those areas, which certainly can be a terrifying experience for a virus that we know so little about.
I think that part was a little bit disconcerting at the time, but also, I think it was very rewarding, being able to take care of patients while the crisis was certainly happening. And it was a little bit nerve-wracking, too, because all of a sudden, there was this decrease again, with those, for example, we weren't seeing retinal detachments or other emergencies that we know are constantly coming in—it can vary a little bit, but generally speaking, they should be coming in—and we would go, you know, days without seeing one. It made you wonder how many people might be staying at home, afraid to come in, because they were afraid of getting infected. And so I think that's played a big role in just making sure that all of us are treating our patients.
And on a personal level, I think that, you know, there is this concern for
transmitting an infection not only to ourselves, but to patients and to staff. And so I think, just that risk of sort of being around in that setting, I think was a little unnerving for a lot of us. But, you know, the comfort level certainly improved, I think, as things sort of progressed.