Local medical interns share their experience working during the pandemic

Eufemia Didonato

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Health professionals are on the front lines of the pandemic, and the battle against COVID is giving health professionals of the future invaluable experiences.

Garrett Donaldson and Kristin Heslep, both medical resident interns at Gundersen Health System, agreed that one of the hardest things they’ve had to witness is the family visitor restrictions. Donaldson and Heslep are both practicing to become doctors in Family Medicine. They said they chose this specific field because of the community connection and helping families. Seeing people ill, without the benefit of family visits, is emotional for them.

“The whole experience of families being together at the bedside and supporting their loved one is very important to me and other medial professionals at Gundersen,” Heslep said. “We still would like to make family visits happen, but safely, but that is not always possible. It hurts to know people can’t visit their loved ones in the hospital.”

There are 18 family medicine resident interns at this time, and even they have to limit their interaction with each other. It’s something Donaldson also mentioned as hard for him and the other interns.

“Us interns can’t all gather as a group in one room anymore,” Donaldson said. “We are doing a lot more online conferences. We are missing that normal social interaction with people. This new normal wears us down, but we encourage each other to stay hopeful.”

Heslep said she is hopeful for the future.

“It’s been a transition for all of us,” Heslep said. “It’s been difficult, but at the same time, really inspiring.”

Both interns said this crisis is a reminder of why they chose careers in the medical field.

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