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A Discussion with Dr. Albert Chmielewski on the Impacts of COVID-19 in Your Community

Born in Kolobrzeg, Poland, and currently residing in Kansas City, Kansas, Albert Chmielewski is a family physician with several years of experience. Through the United States Diversity Visa Program, Albert Chmielewski and his family were allowed entrance to the United States. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas, to live with Albert’s aunt when he was […]

Albert Chmielewski
Albert Chmielewski

Born in Kolobrzeg, Poland, and currently residing in Kansas City, Kansas, Albert Chmielewski is a family physician with several years of experience.

Through the United States Diversity Visa Program, Albert Chmielewski and his family were allowed entrance to the United States. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas, to live with Albert’s aunt when he was nine years old. After overcoming language barriers while in elementary and middle school, Albert ended up graduating from Southeast High School with honors.

Albert Chmielewski attended the University of Kansas and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. At the time, he was considering pursuing a doctorate degree in neurology and becoming a professor or researcher. After his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and long term therapy, Albert decided to attend medical school to become a doctor, with the hope of diagnosing and healing others. With this goal in mind, he worked at Reed Medical Group and ZLB Plasma Services to support himself, gain work experience, and to apply for medical school. In 2009 Albert began attending medical school at Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland.

After graduating from medical school in 2013, Dr. Chmielewski began his residency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which he completed in 2016. After residency Dr. Chmielewski relocated to Kansas City to work as a family medicine physician.

How has your industry been impacted regarding COVID-19?

COVID-19 is affecting the health care and medical industry in so many ways and I believe this will continue for the foreseeable future. Due to the pandemic, important surgeries, procedures, and treatments are often substantially delayed, which puts a lot of people at risk. On the flipside of that, many medical companies are racing to find potential medications and a vaccine for the virus, which will be an exciting milestone once these treatments are approved. Until the vaccine is found and the threat has passed, I believe that the health care industry will continue to be impacted. People will be urged to only seek medical attention if absolutely necessary, and if they do go in to get evaluated, strict sanitary techniques, social distancing, and use of protective personal equipment such as masks and gloves will be common for quite some time.

What keeps you motivated during this time at home?

I know that our medical professionals are working around the clock to keep patients in the hospital safe and as mentioned, researchers are also working around the clock to find a potential cure and the vaccine. That is encouraging for me and I think it should be encouraging for others as well. I am also keeping up to date on the latest medical developments and while we are in uncertain times, it is motivating to learn as much as we can.

Do you have any suggestions of good ways others can cope during this time?

I strongly believe that everybody should be exercising and maintaining their physical health in any way they can. Even just going for a walk, run, or bike ride on a daily basis is important. Being physically active will boost your immunity (which makes you less susceptible to the virus), you’ll get much needed Vitamin D from sunlight, and you’ll be happier because of the endorphins that exercise provides. I also recommend including activities that are relaxing, such as listening to music, reading, or painting to promote mental well-being.

How does working remotely change how doctors can give health care assessments to patients?

Technology allows doctors and patients to communicate via video, allowing for mobile health care. Patients are connected to their doctor and explain the symptoms they are experiencing, allowing the physician to listen to the patient’s history and diagnose the illness to the best of his or her ability, and if needed, send orders for lab work or prescriptions electronically. While it’s not ideal, there are ways to go about working with patients remotely and telemedicine is becoming more robust as more physicians offer this service.

What are some basic healthy guidelines people should include in their everyday life?

We should all try our best to maintain a healthy routine. Most of our routines have been disrupted due to this pandemic which can affect our mental and physical well being. Make sure you continue a proper sleeping schedule and consume regular meals that are healthy and balanced, of course being mindful of caloric intake since most of us aren’t as active as we once were. Maintain a daily exercise routine; if you cannot go to the gym, try remaining active by other means like gardening, organizing, deep cleaning your home, or even online yoga classes which are often available for free on online video-sharing platforms like YouTube. Keep in mind that human contact is important for mental health as well, and even though many states have stay at home orders, use online video chat services to connect to friends and family on a regular basis. By following the aforementioned guidelines, you will be promoting a healthy lifestyle while taking care of yourself, your mind, and your body.

What are some things outside of work that you are doing now to stay busy?

I am experimenting with cooking new recipes and continuing to stay active as I am able. I, along with many others, am also watching more television than before. Doing house projects is also keeping me occupied. While it’s been difficult to sometimes find things to stay busy, I have a lot more time now and I’m not rushing around as much so it is a change of pace I am not used to; however, occasionally, like in the lyrics from Mac Davis’ famous song from 1974, it is nice to just “stop and smell the roses”.

Do you think a work and life balance is important and how difficult is it in these circumstances?

A balance between work and life is important to reduce stress, which may potentially have a lot of negative effects on one’s mental and even physical health. I’d say that we are in a time where for many people the line between work and personal life is blurred because most people are working from home. I highly recommend having a place at home that is dedicated exclusively for work. It’s tempting to work from your couch in front of the TV or even your bed, but those places should not be used for work and will ultimately make you less productive. Once you are finished with your work day, aim to stop thinking about work and begin focusing on personal responsibilities, errands, and household tasks.

What is one piece of advice that is getting you through these current times?

Do not worry about what you can’t control, worry about what you can. We cannot control the pandemic; we can however control our actions in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. I strongly recommend following your local government guidelines for social distancing, sanitary techniques, and if mandated, wearing personal protective equipment such as masks or gloves. Most importantly, if you are feeling sick, talk to your doctor or primary care provider immediately to discuss if you need to be seen for evaluation and possible testing.

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