Released: 5/2/2020 12:09:47 PM
by Annette Pinder
Dr. Alex Ljungberg is Associate Director of Emergency Medicine at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. He and his family also have the distinction of having survived COVID-19. Dr. Ljungberg and his wife are both physicians, with two young children at home, ages 5 ½ months and 22 months.
“We all got it,” says Dr. Ljungberg, “but we were fortunate because our cases were not serious. We all had a fever, headache, and mild cough.”
Still, after what he sees daily, Dr. Ljungberg was both worried and frightened. “It was difficult to sleep at night because I knew that if it got worse, I could end up in the ICU. I’m also embarrassed to say that I was really worried when I lost my sense of smell and taste (a common symptom associated with COVID), because I love food and cooking. So, I’d wake up every morning to see if I could smell the coffee yet.” Now after three weeks and fully recovered, Dr. Ljungberg’s sense of taste and smell have returned. He says, “It has made me appreciate some of the things I take for granted.”
“Working in the emergency room is challenging, but manageable because we work in shifts,” explains Dr. Ljungberg. “Also, we are now equipped with sufficient PPE (personal protective equipment) to ensure everyone’s safety.” However, he admits that it is strange and impersonal to have to treat people while wearing full PPE. He also says it helps now that the hospital has a good supply of tests, which can be processed in-house or through outside labs.
Apart from those with COVID, ER doctors at Millard are seeing patients with a variety of medical problems. As for COVID patients, many are critically ill, represent all ages, and require being placed on a ventilator.
“This is a silent killer that escalates quickly and is one that we are still learning about. We don’t know why some people are hit harder than others, or why children are rarely affected,” says Dr. Ljungberg.
The best part of what Dr. Ljungberg is seeing in the ER though is how everyone has stepped up to help, and how much the community appreciates what we are doing. “It is really touching,” he says. “It also confirms for me, more than ever, that this is what I went to school for, and that this is what medicine in its purest form is all about. The bottom line is, “Our community needs us, and we are there for them. It gives all of us a sense of purpose. More than ever, I see that we are truly are a city of good neighbors.”
Alexander S. Ljungberg, DO is a member of Jacobs UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, who works at UBMD Emergency Medicine Community Division as an Assistant Director.