On March 17th, in a nationwide effort to protect our patients and minimize the overuse of critical primary protective equipment (PPE), the most disposable force in the hospital was removed: our medical students. When I learned of this temporary suspension, I had just finished my first month of inpatient medicine, a defining achievement in the clinical years. My peers and I had endured eight months of clinical rotations, surviving (at times ...

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Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. I say this all the time, with love and compassion, to my patients who are having trouble accepting a diagnosis. Ignoring your Type 2 Diabetes, for example, won’t make it any less real. It will only land you in renal failure and on dialysis, or with a foot amputation, or a heart attack or stroke. Sometimes, we have to set ego aside. ...

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The global pandemic of COVID-19 presents a serious threat of overwhelming our health care system’s capacity. With the lack of a clear, decisive response from the federal government to minimize early virus transmission, it’s becoming rapidly clear that the spike in critical patients flooding the health care system within Italy will likely soon be a problem that the United States will face ...

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I am addicted to Facebook these days. Like everyone else, I am glued to social media, riveted by the drama unfolding around me.  I read from the perspective of a primary care doctor in Seattle, the site of the first case of COVID-19 in the country. My friends and family send me regular thanks for being “on the frontlines.” In truth, I am not on the frontlines. I am not ...

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The unparalleled and pervasive nature of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of us in some way. There is limited, albeit growing, research on the mental health effects of disasters.  A recent review article pointed out the potentially negative consequences of prolonged quarantine, while other research from Wuhan, China, highlighted the impact of COVID-19, particularly amongst healthcare personnel. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals will play a ...

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In college, I learned about the Frank-Starling law of the heart. It is fascinating and demonstrates just one of the bewildering number of human physiologic responses needed to adapt to the demands we place upon our bodies every day. In brief, the Frank-Starling law states that a healthy, normally functioning heart will respond to increases in demand for blood supply and oxygen by increasing the strength of cardiac contractility. This ...

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Fourteen days of social distancing have passed. Emotions are high all around. The wicked foreboding of the mysteriously menacing novel Coronavirus has spared no one. Everyone is scared. The cleaning staff, scrubbing, and wiping just one more time. The techs, maintaining stoicism behind masked faces. The patients, eyes darting with fear. The nurses, bravely caring for their patients. The reality is that the physicians are scared too. We are all ...

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Arrival to isolation room 45: Recently diagnosed with COVID-19, brought in by ambulance for re-evaluation.

I don my new uniform of colorful barriers: red-rimmed eye shield, green N-95, yellow gown, purple gloves. I carefully walk through two sets of doors into the room and find the most sterile spot. I used to touch, shake hands, sit; now I stand on a clean tile away from his bed.

“So I ...

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As a 4th-year neurosurgery resident, I’ve tried to sink my heels into every aspect of neurosurgical care in order to harness the skills, the knowledge, and the confidence to know that I’ll be ready to provide exceptional care to my own patients at the end of seven years of training. If you asked me before the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have never considered that telehealth and virtual care would not ...

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When the COVID-19 pandemic is finally over, health care providers around the world will be asking themselves how we got here. Buying PPE off eBay. Soliciting the public to sew masks. While, as a country, we could have been better prepared, it would not have been practical to stockpile the 3.5 billion masks that HHS estimates will be needed throughout this pandemic. ...

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