Updated: Jan 11
As the vaccination campaign has successfully started , we still had our last vaccination interview in the pipeline.
And not just with anyone, but with 𝐃𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐄𝐦𝐢𝐤𝐨 𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐝-𝐋𝐚𝐤𝐞, head of the Cardiology Department at the Sint. Maarten Medical Center!
Read on to find out how she experienced the Covid-19 pandemic as a medical doctor, and her recommendations pertaining to the vaccination.
𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐮𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟? Hi, I'm Emiko Bird-Lake, cardiologist here at St. Martin Medical Center, where I've been working here now for four years. I'm born here on St. Maarten, and it has always been my dream to become a medical doctor. Which I have accomplished now, after my studies in the States and the Netherlands.
After gaining some medical experience in the Netherlands I decided to come back home. On the 1st of November 2016, I took over the Cardiology department here at the SMMC. I am the first permanent cardiologist, and also the first local one, which is something that I’m very proud of.
I'm married. I have one son and three dogs. Even though I don't have much free time, I do like singing, mainly for the church, going to the beach, trying to exercise here and there a little bit. But right now, it's really work, work, work, and work.
𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃 𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐜 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞? When COVID came, I was immediately aware that my patients are at high risk. But it really hit home when my brother-in-law got COVID and had to be intubated. He lives in the Netherlands and was transported to Germany because they didn’t have hospital beds available. I was his contact person, so I was calling every day to get all the vitals, all the updates and relay that back to my family. That is when it really became serious for me. That care, love, and attention you would want to give to someone who is in a critical state but can’t give at that moment are very difficult to deal with.
So, it affected me quite a bit because I know what COVID can do. Not only through my family, but also the first cases that we had here in the hospital. COVID is something very serious. It influences your wellbeing, your physical state, and even your mental state. It has really surprised the whole world as it spread in such a fast manner. And, we're still looking for the right therapy, which makes this such a difficult problem to deal with. And I'm dealing with a lot of patients who are affected by it too, not only physically, but also socioeconomically as a lot of them lost their jobs and their insurance.
It also affected my practice and the hospital. For a few months, we could not see patients, which also meant that people with regular issues were not treated. Now that has picked up much better, as we're really learning to cope with the situation. Without a mask now, you almost feel naked, ha-ha.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥? What is going back to normal, you know? Shake hands. Give a kiss. A hug. I would love to do that. Because I like to shake my patient's hands or give them a hug sometimes. So yes, I would love to go back to that.
How to go back to that is by eradicating, or at least limiting the spread of this COVID-19 virus. Still, I don't think this will be the last pandemic that we're going to experience. So truly going back to pre-COVID times might not even happen. It has, however, taught us to become more cautious about our hygiene, which is something I would like to keep along with all the new ways of effective communication.
One solution is to make sure that we become immune to the COVID virus. Which is of course through vaccination. It’s important to know that all over the world a lot of money and a lot of time was spent developing this vaccine. There are some companies that used a new mRNA technique, (which turns out to be very effective) and other companies that developed vaccines in the traditional way. But all that has been approved by the EMA are completely safe.
Creating herd immunity is very important. not only for our own health and those of loved ones but also for our economy. Tourists will only return to our island if we stop the spread of this virus. In the meantime, we should still remember to take all measures seriously. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞? My patients as well as my direct social circle, are at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc. So, I'm taking it, not because I'm afraid of COVID, but because I have a real social responsibility towards my patients and the people around me. 𝑆𝑜, 𝐼 𝑎𝑚 𝑑𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑒 𝑖𝑡.
The whole thing is that we want to make our immune systems strong. To create antibodies against this virus. And we know that for a certain length of time, this vaccine will give you that protection. And in the small case that you do get infected, your symptoms are much less severe. So, there are many reasons for me, but my main goal is because I am a doctor and I have a social and professional responsibility towards my patients.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞? It's not wrong to be doubtful. It's good to do research and have a conviction before you do anything. But you also have a responsibility as well. Because you may not be very prone to get the Covid disease or be very symptomatic if you get it. But the point is that no matter what age you are if you do get it, you can pass it on to those who have comorbidities and have a higher risk of dying from it. So, you do have a certain kind of responsibility for not only your family members but also the community as well.
Of course, not everything is clear. But the one thing that is clear is that you will build up immunity when you take the vaccine. And if we create that herd immunity, we can, and we will make this go down. So, try your best and, be convinced that we are doing something positive by taking the vaccination.