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I’ve been working on wards for a week now, and I guess the best way to describe it is a sense of deep disconnection from my patients.

Whenever I see my patients nowadays, I’m wearing two masks, goggles, a gown and gloves. They don’t know what I look like. My voice is muffled. Sometimes they have trouble hearing me. The physical exam is limited. I spend less than a few minutes in the room to reduce my exposure.

Even though I later call my patients on their hospital room phones, even though I constantly check in on them through the hospital room windows, and even though I communicate with their families, there remains this deep sense of disconnection.

I have to remind myself: patients are not problems to solve but people to care for. 

Now more than ever, it feels necessary to get to know them as people, to know more than their medical history & COVID-19 status. 

It feels necessary to hear about the grandchildren they are raising, their hobbies, their hopes and fears. It feels necessary to remind them that they are not alone, that we are here to help & support them.

In this pandemic, I refuse to sacrifice communication and compassion on the altars of efficiency and fear.

To all my fellow frontliners, thank you for seeing your patients as people today. 

-- Dr. Laura Vater @doclauravater

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