Stories: Voices from the frontline
Robert Klem, M.D.
Robert Klem, M.D., is the medical director for patient access at Swedish Medical Group. He's currently performing COVID-19 testing at the community resource clinic in Edmonds.
“The combination of being outside, in a parking garage, having to be covered with masks and shields and gowns and dealing with these ill and often extremely anxious and scared people that come through, it takes a toll on you by the end of the day.
“My first job out of residency was in rural southeast Alaska. And there, because there's not much other medical support, you are the ER doc, the trauma doc, the OB doc. You're doing surgery and everything else, and it's exhilarating.
“Some of this feels a little bit like that, in the sense that this is what we're here for, we went all through our medical school training and residency and internships and everything else so that when things really do get bad and the community needs help, we're the people that are trained to be able to provide it.
“I live about five minutes from the community resource clinic in Edmonds, so I like knowing that I'm doing something of benefit for my neighbors and friends.
“I've done swabs on providers that are friends of mine and other staff that I work with, friends of mine and neighbors and my own patients. One 12 year-old boy came through who happened to be a patient of mine. I swabbed him, and he looked up at me afterwards and said, ‘Dr. Klem, you're my hero.’ It brought me tears to my eyes. Those are the things that keep you coming back every day.”
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