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Madison doctor couple on front lines of COVID-19 embracing 'air hugs'

April 4, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

For workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk isn’t theoretical. Despite wearing protective gear, and taking other precautions, they’re inches away from patients emitting a new

Madison doctor couple on front lines of COVID-19 embracing 'air hugs'

Dr. Matt Nolan has an "air hug" with his son Condict, 3, outside of the family's home on Madison's West Side.

Matt Nolan, who works for UW Health, has been the main doctor recently in UnityPoint Health-Meriter's intensive care unit, which is seeing more COVID-19 patients.

As more COVID-19 patients ended up in UnityPoint Health-Meriter’s intensive care unit last week, most hooked up to ventilators to help them breathe, Dr. Matt Nolan noticed something different from his regular critical care patients. Many of those infected with the new coronavirus were not elderly.

His wife, Dr. Maggie Nolan, 37, wonders if he will need to move to his own apartment as his potential exposure to the virus increases. “It seems inevitable,” she said. Matt Nolan misses the comfort of close contact with his family.

“We’re giving each other air hugs now,” he said. For workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk isn’t theoretical.

As a UW Health critical care specialist and pulmonologist — a doctor who focuses on the lungs and the respiratory system — Matt Nolan was the main doctor in Meriter’s ICU last week and on call there one night this week.

Last week started off slow but ended up busier than usual over the weekend, when more than half of the patients in the 18-bed unit were struggling to overcome COVID-19, he said. Most of the patients have acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which fluid fills tiny air sacs in the lungs.

If patients lay prone, the fluid doesn’t pool as much and the heart doesn’t push on the lungs, he said. Some patients receive anti-inflammatory medications and some get anti-virals, including drugs such as chloroquine, which is approved for malaria and has shown some promise, but no conclusive evidence yet, against COVID-19. But mostly, “it’s really just supportive care,” Matt Nolan said.

‘Because the virus’Maggie Nolan, a resident in UW-Madison’s preventive medicine program, is also playing a role in fighting the pandemic.

She is part of a team that plans to advise the state on how to allocate ventilators and other critical care resources if there aren’t enough to go around amid a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. “(Matt) is on the front lines.

But with more COVID-19 patients requiring critical care, he will likely be needed there more. “He’s going to be kind of absent for this period of time, however long it takes,” Maggie said. Madison preparedMatt said Meriter and UW Health are doing everything they can to protect workers and prepare for a potential onslaught of patients.

He is feeling well and stayed in his basement after his ICU stint out of an abundance of caution, he said. Most providers caring for COVID-19 patients wear face shields and N95 masks, but he is using a device called a powered, air-purifying respirator because his beard prevents a tight seal with an N95.

“Walking into it every day is tough. ”Madison — unlike hard-hit places like Seattle, New York City, Detroit and parts of Louisiana — has had time to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients, he said.

Playgrounds in Wisconsin, including the one next to Emerson Elementary on Madison's East Side, are among the public facilities closed during the COVID-19 crisis.

All of Madison's public libraries have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some cases, even the Little Free Libraries like this one on Hoard Street on Madison's East Side, have closed.

Health care workers at UW Health are using face shields and masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but whether the general public should wear masks has become more of a topic for debate.

A "rent strike" sign hangs from a balcony outside a home on Williamson Street in Madison, Wis. , Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Motorists are offered a $10 car wash on Williamson Street in Madison, Wis. , Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Independent Living, which runs the dinner program in Madison, and SSM Health at Home, which runs the lunch program, have been serving more people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hanah Jon Taylor plays the saxophone Saturday outside his jazz club, Cafe Coda, on Williamson Street that was ordered to close earlier this week along with bars and restaurants across the state due to the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

Anderson-Carter passes time with her sister, Lexus, left, before the Match Day at UW-Madison's School of Medicine and Public Health began.

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

The medical school tradition of Match Day was adjusted because of the COVID-19 pandemic to be an online ceremony.

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

UW-Madison medical school student India Anderson-Carter, right, learned Friday where she will spend her medical residency.

COVID-19 UW Virtual Match Day

Covid State Street

A near empty State Street and Library Mall in Madison Thursday March 19, 2020.

Covid State Street

A pedestrian on a near empty State Street in Madison Thursday March 19, 2020.

COVID-19 schools

COVID-19 schools

Shelby Retzlaff, assistant food service director for the Oregon School District, hands out lunch for today and breakfast for tomorrow for those interested as vehicles pull through the bus lane to pick up student computers at Rome Corners Intermediate School in Oregon, Wis. , Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

COVID-19 schools

Visitors walk through UW's Memorial Union Terrace in Madison, Wis. , Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

UW-Madison graduate student Bryan Luu walks down Bascom Hill on campus in Madison, Wis. , Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Visitors walk through UW's Memorial Union Terrace in Madison, Wis. , Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Here, Sol Kelley-Jones of Madison, Wis. shares a moment with her son, Reyah, 2, during a trip to the UW-Arboretum in the city Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Leopold Elementary School student Shalom Harimana, 12, right, and his brother, Danny, 7, receive pre-packaged bags of breakfast and lunch meals Monday from workers with the Madison School District.

Hawk Sullivan, owner of Hawk's Bar & Grill on State Street in Madison, said people who care about local restaurants and bars need to write their elected representatives and urge them to bail out small businesses that have been swamped by new limits on public gatherings.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway talks Sunday about "aggressive" action city and county officials are taking to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, including immediately closing all Dane County schools, banning gatherings of 50 or more people and reducing restaurant capacities by half.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway listens to Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison and Dane County, during a press conference Sunday announcing a new order to stop gatherings of 50 or more people in the city and in Dane County along with some restrictions on restaurants to reduce capacity.

COVID-19 coronavirus UW-Madison campus dorm move-out

UW-Madison freshman Megan Beaulie, right, chats in her dorm room in Waters Residence Hall with fellow freshman Cristina Dombrowski, who lives down the hall, as the two on March 12 prepare to move off campus because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

With schools shutting down for at least two-and-a-half weeks, the Madison School District plans to have 10 sites across the district where students can continue to receive free breakfast and lunch.

Madison interim Superintendent Jane Belmore takes questions Friday from reporters about the district's plans for when all Wisconsin schools are required to close by 5 p. m. Wednesday.

Tuesday will be the last day of classes for students in the Madison School District.

Dukmo Key, with UW-Madison Housing Services, cleans a door inside Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall on campus Thursday as students prepare to move out temporarily because of the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the new coronavirus.

Students at UW-Madison prepare to board a bus as they depart for spring break from the campus in Madison, Wis. Friday, March 13, 2020.

UW COVID-19

UW COVID-19

UW-Madison freshmen students Brielle Truong,, left, and Megan Beaulie, 19, converse about a campus-wide email Beaulie received regarding the university's ongoing coronavirus precautions in a hallway of the Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall on the campus in Madison, Wis. Thursday, March 12, 2020.

UW COVID-19

Representatives with the state Department of Health Services recommended canceling events that will draw more than 250 people in an effort to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Under the emergency declaration he announced Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers has directed the state Department of Health Services to "use all the resources necessary to respond to and contain the outbreak" of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

UW Covid-19

UW-Madison leaders have outlined their efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, including asking students living in residence halls to return home for the next month.

UW Covid-19

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank speaks during a Wednesday news conference about the university's decision to suspend face-to-face instruction through April 10.

University Health Services executive director Jake Baggott, right, is spearheading UW-Madison's response to COVID-19.

Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health, left, joins Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi in talking about how local government, health and hospital officials are preparing for potential community spread of the new coronavirus.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, behind the podium, said at a news conference Wednesday that local officials are preparing for the likelihood of community spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Dane County, City of Madison, Hospital & Clinic Health Systems held a press conference brief the public on the counties response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparation.

Madison hospitals are creating separate units in their emergency rooms for COVID-19 patients and adding negative air pressure rooms to protect people in other areas.

The growing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is changing quickly in Wisconsin, with new closings and case numbers to keep track of.

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