Neighborhood Heroes: Michael Merjanian, Emergency Medicine Physician

mike merjanian
Photo: Courtesy of Mple & Elm/Michael Merjanian

To overcome the catastrophic coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at hand, it’s important to recognize the positives. One beacon is selfless service. Countless acts by organizations and individuals alike are minimizing the lasting damage. This hard work isn’t only done by the ER doctors, nurses, and first responders constituting our last line of defense. It’s also the good Samaritans doing thankless work next door. We raise our glasses to all the local heroes on the front lines—from all the hospital workers to the grocery stockers, postal workers, small business owners, plus those delivering goods to the elderly and at-risk, #weoweyoudrink.

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In this installment, we spoke to Los Angeles-based Emergency Medicine Physician Michael Merjanian. He’s been hustling (quite literally) on the front lines since all of this began, working tirelessly to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Here, he gives us his advice on how to handle this pandemic.

mike merjanian
Photo: Courtesy of Michael Merjanian

Name: Michael Merjanian

Title: Emergency Medicine Physician

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Years on the Job: 5

MJ: How has your work changed in the last two weeks?

MICHAEL MERJANIAN: The last two weeks has been a lot about preparation. I work in California where we have had many cases of COVID-19, but luckily not to the same extent as New York or Italy. So, the past two weeks have been focused on preparation. We have been doing drills on how to gown-up and wear protective equipment. Our shifts have also been more stressful. Not knowing which patient will expose us to a virus. Constantly trying to learn about new treatments or new characteristics about that virus.

What’s the greatest challenge at hand right now?

The greatest challenge is educating and motivating the public to following the recommendations of social distancing and isolating, as well as preparing the emergency departments for a potential surge of patients.

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Do you feel at-risk/threatened?

I feel more vulnerable than normal, but I also feel prepared. Our hospitals have stepped up and secured more equipment (such as masks and gowns). In California we have had time to respond to what happened in New York, so I do feel more prepared. But yes, the risk of being exposed to the virus, getting sick, being put into quarantine and not receiving paychecks because of it does weigh heavily.

Do you see any signs of hope?

I think people are understanding the importance of staying home. We have had some slowing of new cases and deaths in California. It is way too soon to make any predictions, but there is hope that California won’t become the next New York or Italy.

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Should people still be working?

People should be staying home. If you can work from home, that’s great. If your job is classified as an essential job then please be careful, take precautions. We have a motto in the ER during times like this: “There is no emergency in a pandemic.” This means take your time, prepare, make sure your mask is on. Do not rush into a situation unprepared. You have to take care of yourself first.

How can folks help right now?

There are a lot of ways people can help. The most important is to help stop the virus by following local guideline on social isolation. You can also help by not buying medical-grade supplies. This allows hospitals to buy them for the healthcare workers. Please, donate any medical-grade supplies to your local hospitals.

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Do you know a Neighborhood Hero making a difference on the front lines of your community? There are three easy ways to nominate someone to be featured: 1. Nominate your Neighborhood Hero in the comments below and simply let us know why they deserve to be featured and how we can contact them. 2. Send us a Direct Message on Men’s Journal Instagram with your nomination. 3. Post their photo on Instagram using #weoweyouadrink (either on Stories or Feed).

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