During the pandemic, a physician says: “Put me in, Coach”


I moved to Florida in the middle of my junior year of high school, which was right in the middle of the basketball season. I had only practiced with the new team a handful of times before the first game. I distinctly remember sitting on the bench in my white and maroon uniform, shoes laced up, and tapping my foot anxiously. I watched the teams run up and down the court, my team falling further behind on the scoreboard with each minute that passed. I wanted to get in there. I didn’t know the plays well nor my new teammates. I just wanted a chance to do what I knew how to do. Play basketball. I turned to my coach, and in a heavily Minnesota-accented voice, said, “Put me in, Coach.”

I just received word that my pediatric hospitalist group will start caring for COVID positive adults in a few days.  While part of me is anxious to think about caring for adults when I haven’t taken care of them since my medical school days, the greater part of me says, “Finally!” This past month has been like waiting on the sidelines. I have read about nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, and other health care workers stretched to their limits all over the country, world, and even within my own hospital system. They are sacrificing everything they have, sometimes with their very lives, to care for their patients.

Meanwhile, the census on our pediatric unit is down which I am thankful that, for the most part, our children are being spared the worst of this disease. However, I want to do more. Costco recently released a statement saying that health care providers can move to the front of any line. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to wait in line, but then decided that I couldn’t in good conscience exercise this option. I do not feel like I can claim the accolades and thanks that are being expressed for first responders and health care workers. I am not the one working in COVID units, intubating patients, administering respiratory treatments, or determining the time of death.

Maybe, just maybe, with the chance to care for adults, I can do my small part to ease the burden of those that have been battling this fight for weeks. I am ready, willing, and able. “Put me in, Coach.”

Elise Switzer is a pediatric hospitalist.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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