As a physician and public health advocate, let me be blunt. The only thing more paralyzing than fear is guilt. If your mother or father or best friend or best friend’s child dies from COVID-19, and you did nothing, you will feel terrible, and you will wonder what you could have done to help. If you have a sense of survival and a sense of personal decency and integrity, you need to take part in local and national efforts to keep people alive. We are learning more about this virus by the day. Your family member or friend could die. My patients could die. I need to help my patients and my family. You need to take part in helping others.
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Explore This IssueMay 2020
There are many ways to activate yourself at this time. Here are four things that you should do. Let me be blunt again: Because we are in the midst of a pandemic, you should try to do all four, if possible.
Uncontrolled fear, of course, takes an immense toll on our bodies & our psyches. Fear can become paralyzing when you do not know how to proceed. My goal is not to paralyze you.
Reach Out …
To the healthcare workers in your lives
I have been calling friends across the country, and everyone is scared. I am so grateful for my friends who are intubating 20- and 40- and 70-year-old patients in San Diego and New York City and Bellevue; rounding on sick patients in San Jose and the East Bay and Philadelphia and Durham and Washington, D.C., educating policy makers in Boston and Seattle and Chicago; organizing food drives and homeless shelter drives and personal protective equipment (PPE) requests; and reaching out to the public to convince people to #stayhome during the COVID-19 crisis.
This pandemic is going to get a lot worse. Our physicians and healthcare workers need your help in so many ways. Please text or email or call your friends in healthcare. Messages from my patients, telling me how much they have appreciated me as their doctor have made me cry and have given me the resolve to soldier on. Your healthcare workers need your love and support to get through this disaster.
To your hospitals & ask what they need
Most elective surgeries across the nation have been cancelled. Millions of patient visits have been cancelled. Hospitals and clinics from Boston to Seattle have already furloughed or laid off staff, cutting administrator and healthcare provider salaries and closing clinic sites to plan for massive financial losses and to keep essential operations viable. Against this backdrop, hospitals are also working around the clock to keep patients and their healthcare workers alive.