San Antonio doctor reflects on changes, progress seen one year into COVID-19 pandemic

This month marks one year since COVID-19 began to impact San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio doctor who has treated numerous COVID-19 patients is reflecting on her experience working on the frontlines during the pandemic.

“A lot of changes since then and still a little of disbelief, I guess, is the word,” said Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, internal medicine and infectious disease specialist at Baptist Health System. “We’re still having to deal with this.”

Mohan works at Baptist Medical Center in downtown San Antonio.

One year later: Mayor Nirenberg, Judge Wolff reflect on anniversary of evacuees arriving in San Antonio

In February 2020, when the Princess Cruise ship passengers arrived in San Antonio, one of the passengers experienced COVID-19 symptoms and was brought to Baptist Medical Center for treatment, Mohan said.

“I actually took care of one of the first patients we had here in San Antonio from the Diamond Princess cruise ship,” Mohan said.

At the time, medical experts were still learning about the novel coronavirus.

“We noticed early on just how much was not known about this disease, and I think that’s scary for anybody,” Mohan said.

A year later, health care workers have learned more about COVID-19, but one thing remains the same.

“There is still a significant number of patients with COVID coming in from our communities, and they are requiring various levels of care,” Mohan said.

She said some patients get better within a couple of days and go home with oxygen sometimes, but other patients are in the ICUs on ventilators.

“We are seeing a lot of people still passing away,” Mohan said.

Over the last year, there have been several changes at the facility, according to Mohan.

“We didn’t have a COVID unit. Now we have several within the hospital,” Mohan said.

COVID-19 testing has helped staff determine early on if someone is infected when they arrive at the hospital.

Mohan said therapeutics that have worked for COVID-19 patients include the antiviral drug Remdesivir, convalescent plasma and steroids.

“The way the coronavirus works in the body is that it can cause a very severe inflammatory reaction. So your own immune system kind of goes into hyperdrive to combat the virus, and that can cause damage. So steroids can limit that to some extent,” Mohan said.

Mohan said health care workers are keeping a close eye on new COVID-19 variants, including the one already found in Texas, the UK variant.

“It is highly contagious,” Mohan said. “Any time you see more ability to be contagious, you have more number of cases and potentially more hospitalizations, more deaths,” Mohan said.

About the Authors: