VOICES OF DAVIDSON
HOMETOWN HERO: First Responder Melora Driver, MD
Melora Driver, Davidson resident and mother of two children, ages 8 and 10, is an emergency room physician at the Lake Norman Regional Medical center in Mooresville. Melora says, “I don’t see myself as a hero. I’m just doing my job!”
How did you arrive at your profession?
I decided I wanted to be a doctor when I was 10 years old. I had a bone tumor removed from my arm and the surgeon wasn’t friendly or kind. I told my parents when I grow up I’m going to be a doctor and be nice to people.
As I went through school, I always loved my science classes, so I continued on my path to medicine. I liked all of my rotations in the hospital during medical school. I also like not knowing what I’m going to do at work each day, so I chose Emergency Medicine.
What is your typical day like?
it’s different every day, every hour. I take care of heart attacks, strokes, dislocated joints, broken bones, collapsed lungs, abdominal pain, infections, OB complaints up to 20 weeks, mental health emergencies…and the list goes on.
I care for all ages: womb to tomb. I love the teamwork in the ER. We can all be doing different tasks, but when a trauma comes in we all come together to help a critically ill patient. We work together, laugh a lot, and sometimes cry. We really are a family at work.
Challenging parts of the job?
Caring for those who can’t care for themselves. Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction can all be challenging. It’s the law that we provide care for anyone who come to the Emergency Department. I like that I will help you no matter your ability to pay.
Violence in the work place is a big challenge. We see victims of violence. We also have patients who can grab, hit, spit, and be verbally abusive. We are very fortunate to have a great police force (Mooresville PD) that comes to the ER frequently and helps us with these more difficult cases.
We have to take care of our own when they are sick, injured, or dying. Caring for co-workers and their families is rewarding and can be heartbreaking as well. The worst part hands down is when a child dies. Luckily this doesn’t happen often, but I remember every child I’ve lost in the 19 years since I’ve graduated from medical school. You have to take time to mourn them and process things or you lose hope— the reason we do this job.
How do you stay motivated?
Emergency medicine has a high burnout rate. I avoid this by limiting the number of days I work. I work 12 hour night shifts (yes, I love working night shift) so I have plenty of days off each month to spend time away from the hospital.
Emergency physicians tend to be the work hard, play hard types. I’m a single mom and enjoy many activities with my kids. We love baking, roller coasters, playing the piano, Clemson football, running, and biking. Pre-COVID I enjoyed traveling and scuba diving.
We see a few potential cases each day. It is stressful when I have to intubate these patients as it puts myself and my nurses at risk. We are fortunate to have plenty of PPE.
Yes, it gets hot wearing a plastic gown, face shield, and mask. A local racing team made an intubation box out of plexiglass to provide another barrier between myself and the patient when I put in the breathing tube. The N95 mask causes redness and even skin breakdown when worn for long periods of time.
When I get home from work, my shoes stay in the garage. I strip down in the laundry room and shower immediately. Everyone in the ER does this. We are fearful of getting our families sick.
What can Davidson do to support you?
Wear a mask. Listen to physicians and science, not something you read on social media. Get your kids vaccinated. Physicians are here to help. We get a bad rap in the media. They think we get kickbacks for everything. We don’t.
Biggest help for the ER? Wear helmets when biking. Don’t delay coming to the ER with signs of stroke or chest pain. Talk to your kids about vaping. It is causing lung damage at young ages that I can’t fix. Wear a seatbelt. Don’t drive your car or boat if you’ve had alcohol. Support local organizations that provide healthcare and mental health care to those who can’t afford it.
More about Melora:
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. I graduated from Clemson University with double major biological sciences and Spanish and then graduated from University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
I completed my 3 year residency in Emergency Medicine at Allegheny General hospital in Pittsburgh and have done medical rotations at hospitals in Nicaragua, Spain, and Zambia.
Andrea Nordstrom Caughey is a magazine editor and lifelong writer who hit the jackpot moving to Davidson from California.