Fellowshipping & COVID-ing: Month 4

Thursday, April 30, 2020 Sacramento, CA, USA

The fourth month of my fellowship was different and very interesting time for healthcare workers, new and old. It was a time a lot of health care systems were changing gears in light of the COVID virus. 


I remember when I got the call from my supervisor during one of my shifts towards the end of my third month to tell me that I would be redeployed for month four. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared or anxious at first... I mean -- what would I be doing while redeployed there? I remember thinking I've been lucky enough to stay in my department and to still have a job despite this *hopefully* temporary detour. It would be great to contribute what I can to the COVID response, and so, that's what it was.





I spent my fourth month of fellowship working on the employee health side. I worked with a small team of redeployed doctors, advanced practice providers, nurses, and medical assistants to set up employee COVID screening protocols and guidelines that aligned with the latest evidence, which changed rapidly and on the daily. 


It was initially a different kind of chaos with no workflow in place, but the end result with all our tinkering ended with a system that was efficient, user-friendly, and up-to-date with the current guidelines recommended for COVID. 


I wouldn't have thought that I, as a new graduate nurse practitioner, would be a part of such a large project in such a strange time. But it has been a good experience and I have made several new connections to different departments as a result of it!


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On the flip side, month four was also a tough time for me. 


During this time, one of my housemates (let's call her "A") and I went through a housing issue in which it was made apparent to us that our other housemate (let's call him "B") has been gaslighting us and playing the role of the victim to have the landlord come to his defense in every situation.


For context, when I had found out I got into the fellowship program and had to move to Sacramento, I was considering having housemates for safety purposes since I was originally going to be in Sacramento alone. My husband and I had just relocated back to San Jose after I had graduated, since we didn't want to keep paying for an apartment while I was studying for NP boards and job hunting. I found these housemates, two physician assistant students in their late-20's, from the housing site affiliated with the hospital. I had high hopes that they would be mature and respectable as they were older and future healthcare providers as well. Prior to the move-in, it was agreed between us and the landlords that we (my husband and I) would be paying extra for his stays beyond the allotted guest stays. This was assuming, of course, that the other housemates remained within their limits with their own guest stays. The plan was for him to visit mostly on weekends. At least that was the plan pre-COVID.


Housemate B got away with many things in the short time I lived at the place -- having his parents over from out of town x 2 weeks; leaving rotten/moldy food in the refrigerator; having house parties in which he admits he does not know everyone who is at the party; having his own room, the living room with a mattress (turned bedroom for his guests although it should have been a common area for everyone), and having his own music room; and blaming others for things he did himself. Housemate A even mentioned that housemate B has gone into her room drunk before while she was sleeping, and luckily she woke up. Housemate A had brought this up to the landlord, a woman herself, who was only able to reply:  "we don't have surveillance cameras at the house, so we can't monitor what happens."


Now, in hindsight, I wonder what kind of relationship housemate B had with the landlords that would make landlords go above and beyond for him and to fail to see things with an impartial lens. Also, how did our monthly utility bill (electricity, water, sewage, gas, trash, internet) reach about $300 per person for one of the months? And, why is it that I'm paying for my husband's stays while he is able to have so many people over and sleepover -- parents, friends, etc? While I think this piece is unfair to me, I know it's most unfair to my other housemate A who has been in compliance with the guest stays. At the very least, my husband's stays had already been discussed prior to my move-in, and we (my husband and I) have been compensating for it. 


Despite housemate A and I being in communication with the landlord about different issues we've experienced, it's appalling that they cave in as soon as housemate B mentions that he feels he's being "attacked." One of these instances occurred when housemate A brought up not paying for utilities because she has been at home since COVID caused the school to convert her class lectures to an online format. Housemate A hasn't been at the house for a good month, and really, anyone can see that it would be fair to split the utilities two ways -- between housemate B and myself. As always, when the discussion was brought up, housemate B brought up that he felt it was "unfair" and that he was being "attacked." "Money was tight." I'd like to argue that money is tight for everyone due to COVID. In any case, after his statements, the conversation was over just like that. The utilities would be split three ways. 


It doesn't make sense to me why the landlords are so biased and refuse to listen and consider all sides/parties involved. The final straw for me and my housemate was when the other housemate brought up the topic of suicide in trying to coerce us to be "okay" with him bringing over a guest. Housemate A and I provided housemate B with community and school resources after we had deemed it wasn't an immediate emergency. We also reached out to the landlord about this, who then reached out housemate B. Per the landlord, the housemate B claimed it "was a joke."


As a future healthcare provider and physician assistant, I expected a lot more from housemate B than taking the topic of suicide as "a joke." All this, and I haven't even talked about the lack of cleanliness of the space. While I would have just stuck things out in the past, I decided that enough was enough. I broke the lease early and moved out of that toxic environment (as did my other housemate). The move was as impromptu and spontaneous as it could be. Something that the old me would be apprehensive to do. But the move was right and felt so liberating to be out of an environment where housemate B rules all and no one, not even the landlords can stop him. 


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It was a long time coming to the end of the month. The days felt like years; but at the same time, the days seemed to move quite quickly. I'm looking forward to being back with the neurosurgery department very soon and excited to see what lies ahead while learning the spine side of neurosurgery. I'm also excited to be living in a safer space. 


Nicole G.


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