COVID-19, Congenital Heart Disease, and the Workplace

Unless you live under a rock, you have seen hundreds of COVID-19 articles and the widespread chaos, misunderstanding, and confusion around this virus. We’re constantly told in the news, “It only hits people with underlying medical conditions. For most people, it will be a bad cold”. Here is the thing with that statistic; I am the population with an underlying medical condition. It may seem confusing to most people, because I workout everyday; I run, do sprints, rock climb/boulder, lift weights, and am constantly pushing myself. I am fit, strong, healthy, and it shows. However, I have Congenital Heart Disease. No matter how hard I fight to be fit and healthy, I am the person who will get hit by this virus.

I was born with multiple heart defects, both structural and electrical. My CHD means that when a deadly virus is spreading across our country, affecting our community, I get hit with something worse than pneumonia. For you, the virus may feel like your lungs are on fire, or have an uncomfortably high fever. You may even come into work, because it is not affecting YOU. What I need you to understand, is that having a virus, specifically one which can be deadly, is not just about YOU.

For individuals like me, both young and old, the virus will attack our lungs, then our hearts. We will be stronger and healthier than most of the population one minute, then this virus strikes, and we are hospitalized. The media will say “They had underlying medical conditions”, or “They already had a suppressed immune system”. I am the woman who climbs mountains, something most of you are afraid of. I boulder high rocks without a rope, something most of you would never think of doing. I lift weights, run, push myself; most of you probably don’t do that every day like me. But if I get this virus, I will be labeled as “unhealthy” or be given the statement “she had an underlying health condition”. If I am hospitalized due to this virus, it will attack my heart, and there is a potential that no matter how strong I am, heart failure is a serious possibility.

This writing is meant to be educational and inform all of you that just because a virus doesn’t cause much of an issue in your life, doesn’t mean it won’t severely affect others.

If you are sick, stay home. I don’t care if you are a CEO. I don’t care if you are a VP or Director. Stay home.

Your illness could take the life of someone else.

No meeting is too important.

No meeting is so MANDATORY to the point that it is okay to infect others.

If I am sick, I stay home for not just myself, but for others who have underlying medical conditions. I’m asking you all to do the same.

Stay home until your symptoms are gone. This not only means that your temperature is under 99.0, but also you’re no longer coughing, or sneezing.

Wash your hands. Respect the space of others who don’t want to get sick, and understand that if you show up sick, people like me will work from home to prevent the spread of a virus.

At some point, COVID-19 will become a thing of memory, and when that happens, my hope is that you all continue to practice the guidelines I set above.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you take it to heart. For those of you with underlying medical conditions, or those who have family with underlying medical conditions, keep speaking up and advocating. We have the right to protect ourselves, and those we love. No one else will advocate for us, so we must find the courage to do it ourselves.

“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stay healthy,


One Comment Add yours

  1. Janet Hemphill says:

    Very well said. I have great concerns for you, and others. Working in a pediatric office, I am on the front line. I have seen it all. So much is about themselves , not others.


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