Darrell Childress ’07
Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist — East Alabama Medical Center
How has your line of work been affected by COVID-19?
As an infectious diseases pharmacist, I have been directly involved with previous outbreaks and potential pandemics throughout my career. When this outbreak started, even before we had any positive patients in our community, I was pulled from my normal position of following infections and assisting with antibiotic selection. Instead, I was asked to help establish protocols for reporting and monitoring COVID-19 test results, follow hospitalized patients with the virus, recommend potential treatment options for those patients, and create protocols for treatment plans related to COVID-19. All of this while trying to keep up with the plethora of research articles being published about the virus in order to help our patients with the most up-to-date information.
Can you describe the current situation in your workplace?
Currently, we are seeing a resurgence in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. As a facility, EAMC has gotten better as treatment options have become clearer and researchers have had time to evaluate those options. However, we are very concerned about the increase in cases and hoping that, as a community, we can get better control over this pervasive virus.
What have the last few weeks been like, in your own words?
It’s been surreal. As we have come out of the early days of chaos and have gained much-needed knowledge, testing, and treatment options, we are still battling each day. Over the past few weeks, we have seen younger patients hospitalized, and this is very concerning to me.
How has your home or personal life been affected by the pandemic?
By far, it is my home life that has been most affected by this pandemic. Going in the hospital to work every day, I worry about contracting the virus and spreading it to my wife, Amy Childress (Auburn alumna BA ’10, MA ’17), and daughter, Libby (9).
How did Auburn prepare you for your current role?
Auburn and the Harrison School of Pharmacy truly prepared me to have a successful career in the area of infectious diseases—not only as a fourth-year pharmacy student with the clinical experiences I had but also the tools I was given to be able to evaluate research literature quickly and effectively. The Auburn Creed talks about hard work, and that is something I thought about often when, during March and April of the pandemic, we worked seven days a week for 10-12 hours a day, and all of our fellow healthcare workers put in the extra effort to help our patients.
How do you stay positive during these difficult times?
My family and my co-workers. My family has been a tremendous support system and completely understanding during the first few weeks and months of the pandemic. Also, my co-workers being there for each other and really working as a team. Each day, I always hope that I will see a decrease in our hospitalized patients and someday will get back to a somewhat normal day.