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A Piece of My Mind
September 4, 2020

Running on Fumes

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
JAMA. Published online September 4, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.17249

The drive to the hospital from the hotel that has become my home away from home is made on streets choked with traffic—a reminder that while the pandemic rages on within our walls, outside life goes on, seemingly unbothered.

I park the car and take a few moments to try to quiet my mind and prepare for the day ahead. My attempt is thwarted by questions that continue to swirl. The same questions every day. How many new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients will we admit today? How many patients who had been stable yesterday would now be in the intensive care unit? Or dead? Will this ever end?

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    3 Comments for this article
    Reality Projected
    Bipin Deshpande, MBBS, DVD, FAAD | Noble Hospital, Pune, INDIA
    Sir, you have penned down an absolute real-life experience which is with each one of those who have worked tirelessly in this horrible COVID-19 pandemic.

    This is a lifetime experience and all progress and technological advances achieved in the medical therapy and research has been challenged equally vehemently by the virus which has brought all developments to a standstill and has made us rethink and restart.

    I appreciate your written account on your personal experience and I especially liked the end where you speak about your child about to be born in this hugely changing world in
    a post-COVID era.
    Me versus We
    JB Bouvier, MD, MPH, MComH. | Research organisation, Humanitarian Health Worker
    Dear "Confrere,"

    Thanks for a reminder to do the things and be where we have to be as health workers. Thanks as well for illustrating that unless we think of the situation as We, collectively and together, we will not get away from this pandemic without damage that may well achieve what a competitive, individualist, no wrong profit economical model has started in term of an unequal society that can not lead to a bright future.

    It will be our challenge collectively and by trying to leave no one behind in health care as in the broader society,
    that this child of yours may at the end grow and be raised in a fairer and better society. Your writing makes me know that at least she/he will have the parents all our kids should wish for.

    Duty and Obligation
    Reed Allyn, MB, MSc. | University of British Columbia
    Your sentiments have hit the emotional valley where the feelings of frustration, loneliness and a close sense of defeat reside as case numbers rise and deaths accumulate. It is the front line workers who face isolation in their care of COVID patients, those unfortunate patients and families unlucky enough to have contracted the disease, most who were trying to avoid it, and then regrettably, some who in the face of the science and warnings, chose to ignore the cautionary recommendations and regulation, supported by those who bravely interceded to research, understand and treat this disease. This in turn, has put those valiant healthcare workers at risk, imperiling their families and posing a threat to their colleagues. Sadly, we have lost some of our courageous healthcare professionals because of this. However, as a medical professional, I signed up for the unexpected, I trained to provide care to those diseased, and I am aware of the dangers that face healthcare workers everyday, including myself. But I certainly, like this author, didn't expect this. But as this essayist said in his/her eloquent writing, "I was using my training and skills as a hospitalist to do my part in the struggle against a threat that we were all facing together." The operative word "together" seems to have been lost somewhere in the past 5 months, and before this gets any better, the fundamental goal not as a country, state, province, race, religion, but as humankind, is to fight as "one", to help ourselves as "one". There's a long road ahead.