Shifting Focus: Individual Narratives From COVID-19

PWNHealth Patient, Carol, and husband

As the clock struck midnight and we rang in the new year, the novel coronavirus was still a distant issue that was affecting other people in other countries, while we in New York remained untouched. Time passed though and the virus quickly seeped into our country, our communities, and our lives. News reports of COVID-19 fatalities, hospitalizations, and sickness were all around us. It was impossible not to be inundated with numbers — unemployment statistics, hospitalization rates, and even death tolls. While the numbers have changed and the outbreak has evolved, statistics on infections and deaths continue to be prominent. In this context, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the collective figures; unfortunately, it’s also easy to forget that each of these numbers represents an individual — a life lost, a grieving family, a livelihood gone, a proverbial wrench thrown into an otherwise normal life course.

PWNHealth has been able to play a vital role in helping enable safe and easy access to testing by supporting over 5 million COVID-19 tests nationwide. After receiving a flood of feedback full of heartfelt sentiments from patients, we knew that there had to be more we could do to learn about the individuals we were serving, and understand more about their personal journey throughout this time. With that goal in mind, we launched a patient narrative project. We wanted to get to know some of the patients we helped on a more personal level to better appreciate what it was like to be on the other side of things — to be a patient going through the testing process, receiving a positive result, and utilizing telehealth to speak with a physician from the comfort of their home.

So how did we do this?

To accomplish our goal, we created an opportunity for patients to share their stories with us after completing their telehealth consult and follow-up. Throughout the conversations we had with each patient, we discovered unique attributes to their journey and it was clear after just a few calls that the effect COVID had on their lives was astounding. They appreciated the discussions as much as anything during a time when many have felt isolated, and we were able to gather amazing personal reflections and stories.

What else did we learn from speaking with these patients?

We heard first-hand accounts of some of the fears associated with contracting COVID and therefore losing employment or being isolated at home without the ability to shop for basic necessities among many other deeply personal stories.

And here are some of those stories.

Let me introduce you to Steven. An otherwise healthy 28-year-old male, Steven knew to always exercise caution around the virus and keep himself safe. Despite taking all the necessary precautions during a socially distant get-together with colleagues he hadn’t seen in months, a few days later he developed tell-tale COVID symptoms. As someone who lives alone, with his immediate family still in Costa Rica, having the ability to purchase an at-home test kit and speak with a physician was imperative for his health and well-being. Without this opportunity for us to speak with him directly, we would have never known his personal story and how much PWN fully helped him during such an isolating time. When we reached out to Steven again, he was, fortunately, feeling better, but he still worried about what could have happened to him if his case of COVID was more severe. Thanks to the advice of our physician, he purchased self-monitoring devices for more overall health awareness, maintained a positive mindset, and continued exercising and eating healthy, and ultimately he beat this virus.

Then we have Joshua. While his physical symptoms were not too severe, the emotional implications of the virus were what affected him most. And Sarah, who couldn’t possibly understand how she contracted COVID while adhering to the guidelines. For her, speaking with a physician helped calm and alleviate her fears, and allowed her to receive answers to questions that would otherwise remain unanswered.

Throughout each of these stories, there is unity, togetherness, and the sense of reassurance that these individuals expressed through our discussions with them.

Whether it’s seeing the silver lining in quarantine because of extra time spent with family, appreciating the pause button being hit on a fast-paced life, or the humanistic approach the PWN physician took while answering their questions, all felt deeply fortunate to have this testing and guidance option. These are the stories you don’t necessarily hear on the news — the stories that fully capture the positive impact we were making by taking the time to help patients, answer their questions, and treat them not just as a number but as a human being.

These conversations have invigorated our team and empowered us to continue doing what we do best by capturing the impact we are making on others — real people who are behind the statistics. We hope in sharing these stories and highlighting these individuals, we can all take a step back and remember the individuals who are going through this while reminding us of the impact we make on lives every single day. At PWN, we truly live our company value of putting the patient first and we hope you enjoy these stories as much as we do.

To read more patient testimonials and the impact PWNHealth has had, click here.

Authored by Adina Schwartz, Network Management Coordinator at PWNHealth

For more information about PWNHealth visit pwnhealth.com

At PWNHealth, our mission is to enable safe and easy access to diagnostic testing.