Charlotte Business Journal’s Caroline Hudson filed this report featuring three Charlotte healthcare heroes, one of whom is Dr. Jennifer Womack, part of Tryon Medical Partners’ “swab mob”. The highlights of the article are below; please read the entire May 14, 2020 story here.
Dr. Jenni Womack and her team call themselves the “swab mob.”
Womack works at Tryon Medical Partners’ satellite testing location in Matthews. The staff could see anywhere from 20 to 60 patients in a day. Most of the work is outdoors, as providers meet patients at their cars. The actual test is uncomfortable — a swab is inserted through the nose and pushed back into the nasopharynx, a cavity between the nose and throat.
Womack said she never planned for this. In fact, a patient asked her in January about traveling to Hong Kong. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. She could’ve never guessed how the virus would progress.
“Everything has just changed so much in the last few months,” Womack said. “It’s not something that you train for, that you learn about, and most physicians have never experienced anything like this before.”
Womack works as an internist at Tryon’s uptown office. She volunteered to help with the testing site when Covid-19 hit. She also travels with a four-person team to test company employees in multiple states.
It’s been a transition from desk work to field work, she said.
But Womack doesn’t have time to sit back and think about what’s happening. She has to move forward. Womack said it helps to share similar experiences with her coworkers. She faces daily exhaustion, but it hasn’t yet progressed to burnout.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, has been an issue, she said. Some employees had to use decade-old N95 masks, although they did pass testing. They would also reuse the same masks for a week or two.
Womack recalled one instance of feeling unsafe — and not directly related to PPE. Her team was testing patients in the site’s parking lot on a rainy and windy day. The equipment was getting wet. She realized any infectious droplets from a patient’s car were blowing into her face.
Womack said she wishes the health-care industry had been more prepared for the PPE need.
“Every day I feel on edge, but we’re taking all the appropriate precautions. We’re doing the best we can,” she said. “If we run out of health-care workers, then who’s going to take care of sick patients?”