Not long ago, weekends for Cornelia Griggs, MD, meant making trips to the grocery store, chasing after two active toddlers, and eating brunch with her husband after a busy work week. But life has changed dramatically for the family since the spread of COVID-19. On a recent weekend, Dr. Griggs and her husband, Robert Goldstone, MD, spent their days off drafting a will.
“We’re both doctors, and we know that health care workers have an increased risk of contracting COVID,” said Dr. Griggs, a pediatric surgery fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. “It felt like the responsible thing to do: Have a will in place to make sure our wishes are clear about who would manage our property and assets, and who would take care of our kids – God forbid.”
Outlining their final wishes is among many difficult decisions the doctors, both 36, have been forced to make in recent weeks., a general surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is no longer returning to New York during his time off, said Dr. Griggs, who has had known COVID-19 exposures. The couple’s children, aged 4 and almost 2, are temporarily living with their grandparents in Connecticut to decrease their exposure risk.
“I felt like it was safer for all of them to be there while I was going back and forth from the hospital,” Dr. Griggs said. “My husband is in Boston. The kids are in Connecticut and I’m in New York. That inherently is hard because our whole family is split up. I don’t know when it will be safe for me to see them again.”
Health professional couples across the country are facing similar challenges as they navigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work, while trying to protect their families at home. From childcare dilemmas to quarantine quandaries to end-of-life considerations, partners who work in health care are confronting tough questions as the pandemic continues.