Hi, friends –

Today I am starting a new regular feature on healthymatters.org.  I, like you, have found life turned upside-down as we collectively struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic. In my role as a physician in a safety-net hospital, it has consumed my time as well as the mental and emotional energy of all 6,000 Hennepin Healthcare employees.

I offer this series, “A doctor’s diary from a pandemic” to you for some perspectives from inside a US healthcare system.  This will not be a data-packed feature (go to cdc.gov for reliable COVID-19 information).  Rather, it will be my barely-edited reflections in real-time.  Hopefully you will find it informational, perhaps a source of solace, or at least mildly amusing.  Read on and look for posts nearly daily.

March 19, 2020:  “This too shall pass”

A pic from pre-COVID days

Today at the hospital we are struggling to reassure our numerous health care staff about their own safety.  One Emergency Department nurse talks about her daily fears for the health and well-being not only of her patients, but of her co-workers.  I take strength every day from our nurses in the best of times, so to see these heroes of medicine struggling with their own fears is tough.  We want to hug one another but we can’t – gotta keep 6 feet apart – so instead we give each other support across the distance with our eyes.

And yet I am amazed at my colleagues.  Food service workers are making “grab-and-go” food in the cafeteria.  I saw a nurse put her own nerves aside to reassure a scared patient today.  A surgeon stopped me in the hall while grappling with how to repair a fractured hip in a patient with a fever.  Incredible IT people are ensuring that hundreds of people can productively work at home and have made virtual meetings a reality across our computer networks.  Infection prevention people keep us informed and safe.  Finance people keep the whole thing afloat.

We are prepared and we will be OK as a community.  Of that I am sure.  As a courageous hospitalist physician leader said to me today:  “We got this!”  To healthcare workers across the globe:  thank you.

I am fond of the familiar Persian saying, “This too shall pass.”  And it certainly will.