The unsung heroes: Family of eight gives doctor strength to fight on

Coronavirus

We talk about the frontline warriors, the doctors, the nurses there for the patients of this pandemic, but what about the unsung hero's they come home to?

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — As the virus isolates everyone, the president of WVU Medicine – Reynolds Memorial Hospital said you can never prepare for something like this. But as a family of eight, he’s having to balance saving his patients while protecting his home from the virus.​

​ They understand the hours are long, the emotional toll is heavy. They’ve made me signs when I come home and they say dad, we appreciate what you do for us, ​ but also the patients.” ​

Dr. David Hess, CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, internal medicine and pediatrician

​ After a long day of work, the first thing you want to do is run home and hug your kids, but now instead the doctor strips down and takes a shower.​ Trying to interact with his family without carrying the virus home has been emotionally draining. ​ And now daily, doctors are carrying burdens with their patients when they come in the door. ​ ​

Nodding and smiling, and letting people feel heard, and that’s taken away with facemasks. Patients are feeling so alone, so fearful, and It’s the most difficult time I​ think as a physician that I’ve ever been through and I’ve been doing this now for 20 years.

Dr. David Hess, CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, internal medicine and pediatrician

Along with the virus, fear and isolation is communicable.

So far Dr. Hess is not self-isolating, but there has been talk at home on what to do once that time comes and he begins seeing many COVID-19 patients.​

We have a rental property I was going to go live at during the surge because I didn’t want to have my family be at risk.

Dr. David Hess, CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, internal medicine and pediatrician

As he treats the most vulnerable, getting home you can be at your weakest. ​ Holding back tears he says it’s his wife and kids that really save the day.​ ​

She knew what she was getting into when we got married that medicine was going to be tough, and I was going to be working a lot, but through this, she said whatever needs done in the house and the family I’m willing to step up and do it so that you can be there for the hospital,​ the community, and the patients. ​ ​

Dr. David Hess, CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, internal medicine and pediatrician

The irony is that through these trials the Hess family has found a new normal. Time spent with each other becomes something savored more.​ ​

During covid, my family’s really shown me what they’re truly made of. ​ To step up and say you do this, and we’ve got your back is an unbelievable feeling for me.

Dr. David Hess, CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, internal medicine and pediatrician

Dr. Hess says the battle has only just begun. These next weeks, months, will be trying, but the doctor says the ultimate sacrifice is loving someone so much, you do whatever you can to keep them healthy.

And while we don’t know what it will look like on the other side of this pandemic, he says WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital with continue to serve on the front lines.

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