Other than the occasional parking-lot “thank you” caught on social media feeds, medical workers have remained a small part of the daily headlines and/or breaking news. Yet no one group is closer to the devastating consequences of COVID-19—both in terms of risk of catching it as well as frontline experience in witnessing its cruel path of destruction.
Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of six books, penned an article for the New York Times Sunday exploring the historic experiences of medical workers who battle the COVID-19 virus daily. A number of reports highlighting the suicides and deaths of medical workers provide insight into how deeply disturbing it can be to fight against the ravages of this pandemic. However, facts about the virus, actual human experiences, and real-life stresses that confront medical workers are revealed in Suskind’s article. His intimate storytelling captures emergency room doctors at their lowest points—at the end of a long shift and on a day off from the fray—where we see how easily these doctors break. It is a poignant and emotional testament of courage and selflessness told by those who deal with the virus’s relentless demands.
Telling the stories from the ER is probably not something these doctors and medical workers often do. Rather, their daily first-hand experience bonds them together. In fact, many of the doctors interviewed were separated from family and friends because of the risk they are in, let alone spreading it outside the hospital. Suskind allows us into these conversations by sharing two doctors talking to each other. There is no nodding in agreement, simply a breakdown into tears when one recounts a pain the other knows so well.
GET HELP Board Advisory Chair Lloyd Sederer, MD, is quoted in Suskind’s piece, as he is part of the historian project to capture these experiences with COVID-19.
The problem with this disaster is its progressive quality. With the coronavirus, there will be no return to normal: The virus will just keep rolling along, striking blows to the population and to the confidence of doctors—a confidence in their ability to help and save. That’s the core of their identity, and it’s been shaken. They don’t feel like themselves. There’s no horizon, no clear end to this.
It is easy to get used to the presence of a traumatic event, just as other generations adapted to World Wars, in an effort to make the unbearable bearable. It is just as important to take stock of the price we are all paying as this pandemic gets just as comfortable with us. Suskind’s article is worth your time to read and absorb, to take this moment in time to understand COVID-19’s vast impact on humanity, and to reflect on the frontline soldiers who are quietly fighting it.
To read the full article CLICK HERE or on the graphic below.