Grinnellian Covid Experiences - Don Kraitsik ’70

“Included in my current tasks? Notifying people that their COVID-19 test is positive.”

June 24, 2020 — Don Kraitsik ’70 practices family medicine at Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, New Mexico.

Don Kraitsik ’70
    Don Kraitsik ’70

My usual outpatient care of longtime patients — Navajo, Zuni, Apache — has been totally disrupted. I spend hours on the phone doing a variation of telemedicine. Many patients have no phone, poor service, no answering machine, no texting. Some are homeless. When I finally do make contact with them, they are suspicious at first, thinking I might be a bill collector. I have to convince them who I am.

The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the coronavirus. On a per capita basis, the Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey. When sheltered in home, many Navajo people have no running water (making hand-washing most difficult) and many people live together in multi-generational large family groups. If one family member gets the coronavirus, everyone in the family gets exposed.

I have been asked to serve on an oversight committee regarding ventilator rationing if we come to a major surge and need to make moral/ethical decisions about who gets a ventilator. I have previously taken care of patients with tuberculosis and hantavirus. I think the coronavirus is unlike any other disease I have ever faced in its overwhelming threat to all humans.

I am not on the front lines seeing sick COVID-19 patients in consideration of my age. Many of my younger colleagues are spending long days in full personal protective equipment providing quality medical care for very sick patients. I salute, applaud, and honor all health care workers everywhere who are on the front lines.

Read more stories about Grinnellians facing COVID-19 head-on.