by Dr. Ritu Nahar, MD, internal medicine resident physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, written for COVID-19: Inside the Global Epicenter: Personal Accounts from NYC Frontline Healthcare Providers by Krutika Parasar Raulkar, MD Prior to starting the COVID service, I was eating and drinking fear and anxiety — there were wakeless nights and internet research, scrutinizing countless emails taking notes on the latest Jefferson COVID guidelines. I was alternating between feeling like a strong and resilient knight …
I have finally had enough. As a health care provider, COVID-19 brought about a lot of uncertainty and many changes in preparation for what might unfold. But over the last few months, the social unrest surrounding police brutality and the disproportionate occurrence of these cases towards people of color has added to my physical exhaustion by conflating it with both emotional and mental fatigue. After 32 years of tolerating systemic racism, it is finally my turn to say something.
Earlier in February of this year, before COVID-19’s onslaught in London, UK, I was covering service on a respiratory ward when a young medical student made herself known to the physician’s office. “Could I borrow your stethoscope? I’m here to practice my respiratory examinations.”
Day 50 something? I haven’t been counting. I had to look it up, from the first day we got the hint things were really wrong … March 3, 68 days ago. That was the day all domestic travel to conferences was banned.
When the pandemic hit, many psychiatry departments across the United States had to rapidly adapt and respond in innovative ways to serve the needs of their patient population. After an initial struggle, many found a platform best-suited for this need and transitioned to telepsychiatry as a way to see and treat patients.
I didn’t start out thinking I was going to be a physician. I was going to be an actor. I committed myself to a life of emotional expression, artistic fulfillment and likely poverty, and pursued an undergraduate conservatory degree in theater, which I quickly found is one of the most nebulous forms of education one can obtain.
My husband was a 53-year-old man who worked full-time as a mental health aide. He was a hardworking man, with shifts from 3:30pm to 12am, and was very dedicated to his patients. He was on the frontline caring for COVID-19 patients. I work as a nurse at the same hospital during the day shift.
For the first time in history, a pandemic has shut down the entire globe. COVID-19 has affected our lives in many ways, including significantly impacting health care services. Many people, sensing an unseen danger looming in the air, have become increasingly afraid to visit their primary care physicians, and we are now discovering the catastrophic consequences of this delay.
As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched into the late spring months, the ACGME made the recommendation to hold all residency and fellowship recruitment for the 2021 Match cycle virtually. At University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, preparations began.
In the pandemic’s wake, we witnessed the explosion of viral social media content such as Plandemic, an alternate exaggerated narrative which sought to perpetuate the types of claims one would expect from the title. These kinds of conspiracy theories have always existed in many different shapes and forms; however, COVID-19 struck at a time when society was suffering from a pre-existing condition of deep mistrust.
No one had told her how difficult the fight after COVID would be. Of course, few in her community had lived to tell the tale. And then again, precious few people had expected her to survive at the ripe old age of 86.
“Hello? Can you hear me?” Tightly holding the phone, I heard only an old man’s distant yelling and the shattering of dishes being thrown against the wall.