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Having Both Parents on the Frontlines: An Interview with Physician's Family

Interviewer: Jacob Liu

Editors: Tiffany Chen, Joyce Hai, Demi Leng, Shannon Tan, Cynthia Zhang, Molly Zhao, Leon Zhou

Interviewee: Nick Pangan (and Parents: Dr. Mike Pangan and Dr. Patty Pangan)

Question: What are your overall thoughts about COVID-19?

a) I think it’s just a terrible thing to happen at this time. People all around the world should be unifying, but the circumstances given have prevented us from doing so.

Question: Can you elaborate on why you think COVID-19 was taken too lightly by U.S. citizens at the start of the pandemic?

a) Yes. In the beginning, many people around me only regarded the coronavirus as something similar to the flu and believed it was only fatal to the elderly population, that teenagers or children were somehow “immune” to the disease. Thus, they weren’t really worried about contracting the disease, which we now know is wrong.

Question: Since your parents work in the medical field, have you paid a lot of attention to COVID-19 since the start, or did you underestimate this disease like others?

a) Honestly, in the beginning, I was also underestimating the severity of the situation. Everything that was reported on the media and the news, as well as by my peers, made me believe that the coronavirus wasn’t that big of a threat. So, I would say I underestimated it. However, it is now clear that underestimating COVID-19 has led to the disease overwhelming health systems internationally.

Question: I know that both your parents are doctors. Can you tell me what specific work they do in the hospital and if they work with infected patients?

a) My mom is an internal physician at Exeter Hospital. She works with patients over the age of 18. My dad is a family physician, so he works with people of all ages. My father is in the respiratory clinic, and he is designated to rooms with symptomatic patients. Usually, the patient has a mask, and my dad wears a gown and a mask. So, it is pretty confined. Generally, they are also supposed to change a new mask and gown after every patient. But given the current circumstances, it is not feasible.

Question: While working in the hospitals, did your parents experience any shortage of PPE?

a) Luckily, the hospital my parents work at was not in severe need of medical equipment. But it’s safe to say that there aren’t any areas around the whole country that have a disposable amount of equipment. Thus, sometimes my parents found themselves having to reuse masks and doctor gowns.

Question: Around how many patients does your dad see every day?

a) In the clinic, my dad is seeing about 18 to 22 symptomatic patients per day. He sends in 2 to 3 patients that are tested to be positive for the coronavirus.

Question: Are you worried about your parents’ safety, given that they are on the frontlines? How do you feel about your parents’ work?

a) All the time, of course. With more detailed studies emerging about the dangers of COVID-19, I have recently been thinking about their safety a lot and I hope they adequately protect themselves. I am extremely proud of them for doing their work during normal times, but I have never been prouder to see them work so hard as frontline heroes, saving lives. It truly is a testament to their willingness and generosity.

Question: Have your parents ever thought about quitting?

a) No, both my parents love their job. I think it brings them fulfillment, both mentally and financially, so I don’t think they would ever quit.

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