This past month, I was admitting a patient for a TIA, otherwise known as a “mini-stroke,” whose symptoms resolved by the time he got to the floor. In the interest of connecting with the patient during my taking of his history and physical, I usually ask patients where they are from. The town where I live and practice in has a lot of retirees who have relocated here.
We discussed his vaccine status, and he said that he and his wife were not planning to get the vaccine due to their “co-morbidities.” I took an opportunity for a teaching moment did a little education regarding the side effects of the vaccines versus contracting COVID-19 itself. His first bout with COVID-19 earlier in the year was a mild case for him.
Fast forward, he tells me he and his wife are debating visiting California but was concerned about the “China virus.”
Instead of interrupting him, I let him complete his thought and proceeded to state to him that I was very offended by his comment about the “China virus” and that the correct name is “coronavirus,” and said, “that is all I will say about this.” One of the nurses, who is white, turned several shades paler and ran out of the room. She later told me she never thought she would ever hear someone say this and apologized to me for what happened.
She was more upset than I was; I was just angered. The issue is that this type of not-so microagression likely caused more emotional damage to the psyche of the poor young nurse who ran out of the room. Our staff deserves better than that.
Debi Wong is a nurse practitioner.
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