Even before the pandemic, the U.S. health care system needed a significant overhaul. For too long, we have operated in a reactive mode, prioritizing treating illness over ensuring health and wellness. In the post-COVID-19 era, stakes are even higher. Our health care system faces an unprecedented demand surge from millions who put their own care on hold over the past several months. How we approach this impending surge will determine ...

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It is exciting to see so many American medical students join the protracted struggle for racial justice. Some students are involved in efforts within their institutions to affect change--both curricular and extracurricular. Others are working beyond their institutions, in the streets, and on social media. While student activism is transforming American medical schools as we speak, an additional key to making sure that the movement both persists and succeeds lies with ...

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While waiting for his mother to schedule his next well-child appointment, a young boy sat in our clinic lobby engrossed in his new Reach Out and Read book. He and his family were new to our area, having just moved from Syria a few short months before the onset of the COVID pandemic. Across from him in our rather small clinic lobby sat a girl his age reading the same ...

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We are in the midst of a crisis in humanity. While we are still dealing with COVID pandemic and its deleterious health, economic and societal consequences, our troubling past of racism and inequality is rearing its ugly head. The senseless killings at the hands of police, the shameful subjugation of persons of color, the systemic prejudice of a person based upon gender, sexual orientation, or disability have placed us at a ...

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It has been about three weeks since I've had my favorite tortilla. The plant that makes them, located on the lower west side of Chicago, closed after one of its workers died of COVID-19. Unlike workers in the meat-packing industry, the employees of this particular tortilla plant were not forced to go back to work. Instead, the factory closed to perform a thorough cleaning
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This past March, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published six ethical recommendations to guide the allocation of scarce medical resources during COVID-19. In their second recommendation, they stated that “critical COVID-19 interventions — testing, PPE, ICU beds, ventilators, therapeutics, and vaccines — should go first to frontline health care workers and others who care for ill patients.” This makes sense because health care workers ...

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I can’t breathe. These words cut to the core of all humans, and shock anesthesiologists. We are trained to continuously listen to and think about breathing. We coach our patients: Take a deep breath! Yes! And another one! We watch our patients’ chests rise and fall, like waves on an endless sea. We listen to bellows and the winds of breath through tubes and ...

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Before I walked hospital hallways as a medical student, I walked high school hallways as a science teacher in Houston’s 5th Ward.  Each year, the most difficult time for me was graduation. The pride of watching my students, most African American, achieve a well-earned success was mixed with the sadness of losing incredible people as they moved on. Also mixed in was the humbling understanding of the incredible disparity between ...

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Until recently, I didn’t really understand the meaning behind the Black Lives Matter movement.  I was one of those people who felt, “of course black lives matter, all lives matter.”  I mean, that’s exactly why I became a doctor in the first place.  To help people. All people.  I would venture to say that with my rose-colored glasses and white privilege (that I didn’t know I had), I was even offended that color was ...

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Over the last few days, physicians and nurses across the country have taken a knee, galvanized by the recent death of George Floyd, as well as the disproportionate effect of the coronavirus pandemic on African-American families. The White Coats for Black Lives movement firmly identifies racism as a public health issue and calls on everyone in the health care system to take action.

As physicians, we can see what ...

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