Credit: George Danby

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I’m writing as an individual, a father, a doctor and the president of the Maine Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. The anticipated magnitude and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything any of us have previously experienced or imagined. Yet, as emergency physicians, we have been preparing for disasters our entire careers.

In the coming weeks we face a multitude of challenges, including personal protective equipment shortages, too few tests, and an emerging and changing knowledge about the disease itself. We know there is a wave of very sick patients coming, which will strain and possibly break a health care system that has been pushed to the limits for years.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

Emergency physicians are preparing their work, their homes, their families and themselves for a fight like none we’ve ever seen before. In discussions with my colleagues across the state, I hear resolve and commitment; no one voices a complaint or regret or desire to run from this.

I see the same at work among nurses, medical assistants, cleaners, cooks, social workers, and more; everyone is ready to work to help you and our community. This is a group of amazingly brave folks already running at this challenge ready to do all they can to help. We are here to serve.

I want to thank you for your efforts to minimize contact with others and quarantine. It is vital to continue these precautions until the Maine Center for Disease Control determines that they are no longer necessary. Your efforts will have a major impact on how this crisis unfolds here in Maine.

In the coming weeks and months, we are going to see new situations that were completely unimaginable just one month ago. We anticipate stressful situations and maybe horrible decisions that will weigh on our emotions for the rest of our lives.

Please be patient with us when you are in the ER. We know you are scared for yourselves and for your loved ones and I promise we are doing everything we can to help you.

Our calling is to help anyone with any problem at any time regardless of age, race, gender, income, sexual preference, disability or any other social factor. We do this 24/7/365 and we consider it a privilege.

I am proud to be an emergency physician, I am proud of the dedicated team in our hospitals, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Maine.

Garreth Debiegun is a board certified emergency physician, president of the Maine Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a clinical assistant professor at Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine.