Physicians choose love, science, and healing

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Physicians dedicate their lives to serving their patients and the communities in which they reside.  We work tirelessly to educate and protect people, regardless of their background, political affiliation, immigration status, or gender.  Most of us have worked to educate our local and state governments, schools, and patients about this pandemic to empower them to take safe measures to protect their families.

We are fighting a war to control this virus, and our primary enemy has been Donald Trump and his malignant inability to speak the truth.  Physicians are not adversaries.  We are a group of people who sacrifice day in and day out to ensure our country is protected.   We are made of men and women, from all ethnic backgrounds, some of us are immigrants, and we have joined together to put this pandemic behind us.

Donald Trump’s assertions about physicians profiting off the virus are completely false, as are many of his allegations as we have seen over the last several years.  Physicians DO NOT inflate numbers of COVID-19 for a payout, for some benefit personally or professionally.  We, as a community, find joy when the numbers are going down.  We become hopeful that mitigation processes are helping to control the community spread of the pandemic.  Physicians would be held liable for any potential fraud and would actually receive punishment for lying about medical information, disseminating false information, or using the above for financial gain.  Many healthcare workers and physicians took pay cuts due to the economic concerns associated with COVID-19.  We don’t pick and choose what lies and truths to follow when we are providing medical care.  Facts, data, science lead us, and provide evidence-based medicine for all our patients.

However, as we have seen, with Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, on CNN this weekend, the administration has turned away from every public health official and physician and has raised the white flag to let this virus spread.  We have chosen political expediency over the lives of American citizens we serve.

Consider for a moment the national studies on the mismanagement of the pandemic and the dramatic and appalling misinformation that has been spread.   One large common link is made even more apparent by the New England Journal’s recent and historic endorsement of Joe Biden.  Another study published by Cornell looked at the “infodemic” behind the mishandling of medical information.  The single largest driver of misinformation is Donald Trump.  This has real-world implications for our entire country and everyone who works in healthcare.

Like Donald Trump, physicians take an oath when they graduate medical school.  During this oath, we pledge to “do no harm,” we have an understanding that we have a duty to treat the patients we care for.  We don’t get to decide who is worthy of care, accurate information, or medication.  We are called on to serve, and that is exactly what we do.  Unlike Donald Trump, we will continue to uphold our oaths, despite his best effort to discredit our community and the care we provide.

At no other time in American history has a president, and his enablers acted to politicize science, research, and the healthcare professionals who sacrifice for this country.  Some of us have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and his words are profoundly disrespectful to the men and women who serve.

In many cases, we have been abandoned on the battlefield, and for a commander in chief of the strongest military on earth, that isn’t a good look.  We haven’t used the Defense Production Act to help increase PPE production or other life-saving equipment.  Instead, we have been met with a constellation of excuses and lies.

Over the last year, the nation has lost its way.  Little by little, what makes us America has been eroded.  The misogynistic and racial dog whistles have become woven into the fabric of our daily lives.  We have lost touch with humanity, and that life should be valued.  Our failures can help create meaningful change for the future, or it can lead to our humanity’s dissolution.  We are at an intersection, and we need to choose the direction of life and love.  We need to choose to stand together to create a world where our children can thrive.  The entire world is watching, and you will be remembered for what side of history you stood on.  Remember, silence is complicity, and inaction is no longer an option.

Kellie Lease Stecher is an obstetrician-gynecologist, M Health Fairview Center for Women, Edina and Eden Prairie, MN. She can be reached on LinkedInFacebook, and on Medium @kellie.stecher.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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