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COVID-19 Resources

Lauren Ashbrook. Doctor. Mother. Superhero.

Jun. 13, 2020

Lauren Ashbrook, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. 

Her main role is as a UC Health primary care physician at the Clifton Campus office, but at other times, she leads a team at UC Medical Center for sick, hospitalized patients.

As COVID-19 started to affect our community, she has taken care of many patients infected with the disease. When working in the hospital, Dr. Ashbrook is an attending physician and supervises UC College of Medicine resident physicians who are completing their training in internal medicine. Rounding on patients looks a little different these days.

What made you want to become a physician?

Even from a young age, I always wanted to be a doctor. I remember sitting in my pediatrician’s office and thinking that I wanted to help others when I grew up. I’ve always been good at math and science, and being a physician allows me to help others while using those skills.

How has your day-to-day role in patient care changed since COVID-19 arrived in our community?

My team and I had to look at the way we see patients. Normally, we do bedside rounds with a large interdisciplinary team, but now we have to cut that down to two or three doctors to help preserve personal protective equipment (PPE). When rounding on patients on a COVID-19 unit, we start with the patients who have negative COVID-19 tests or are not suspected of having COVID-19.

Next, we round on patients who show signs of the disease but have not yet received a positive test result from our lab. Lastly, we move to the patients who are positive for COVID-19. This way, we do not bring any germs to patients who do not have the virus. Also, we are universally masking and using face shields for every patient to keep us safe and to keep us from spreading anything to them. We are very careful as we remove our equipment after the patient encounter as well in order to not infect ourselves.

How has life at home changed since you are working with COVID-19 patients?

I have two daughters—Zoey (18 months) and Sora (5 and ½ years). Both girls do as kids do, and hang onto me and want to play all the time. My husband, Geoff, created a decontamination station in the garage for me to use when I arrive home after a long day with patients. I use spray disinfectant on everything that cannot go into the wash, and then all my clothes go directly into the laundry to be cleaned. I always take a shower after I get home as well.

My husband and I sat down to discuss what would happen if I started to show symptoms of COVID-19. If I do start having any signs or symptoms, then I will go to a hotel and stay there until I am feeling better. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so this works for us. These conversations are hard to have, but it’s important to have a game plan during this challenging time.

What are some helpful tips you would like to share with our community who are nervous about COVID-19?

Some tips to remember are to wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day. Clean high-touch surfaces daily, especially when you come in from being around others, or when you bring items from a public place into your house. Try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose with your hands – it’s hard to do, but that’s the easiest way the virus can get into our bodies.

What are some “words of wisdom” for the residents who are rounding on COVID-19 patients with you?

We are in a stressful time right now. Work on finding that balance between keeping yourself safe by really paying attention to what you are doing when entering and exiting a room, and taking good care of patients. Stay connected with your friends and family through virtual means, as residency is really grueling and having your support system back you up is so important.

How do you think the “new normal” will affect primary care in our system?

When COVID-19 ramped up months ago, UC Health ramped up our telehealth capabilities. Being able to offer telehealth visit types is one of the silver linings, as this has increased many patients’ access to care. We will still need patients to come in for their yearly physicals and for some other appointment types, but having the ability to do virtual visits can be so convenient for patients.

Some people are nervous about coming to the hospital or other clinical spaces. What advice would you give them to help overcome those fears?

UC Health and all of its clinicians are taking every precaution necessary to make our offices and clinical areas safe spaces for patients. You should expect to encounter a smaller number of people in our offices, thanks to the virtual visits that are available. Some offices are having patients wait in exam rooms or even in their cars until their doctor is ready to see them in the office. Every patient will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and asked to wear a face mask. Our employees will have on eye protection and a mask during every patient encounter, and of course, will be washing their hands in order to keep you safe!