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The First One

I will never forget my interaction with my first COVID-positive patient. The fear and uncertainty on his face mirrored mine... only mine was hidden under my mask.

He asked me what was next. He asked me if he was going to die. As I gathered my thoughts,  trying to find the “correct” way to answer him, he began to tear up. I could see he felt so alone.

At that moment, I knew that he wasn't looking for the politically correct answer. He was looking for a human response.

As scared as I was, I pulled a chair beside him, sat down, extended my hand. I explained that while I could not definitively predict his trajectory, I would be with him every step of the way. I promised him that I would keep an open line of communication so that he knew what to expect moving forward.

He thanked me for taking the time to sit with him, but in reality I should've thanked him. That early experience allowed me to view COVID from the patient's vantage point, a view that as frontliners, we sometimes have no insight into.

As we navigate through this pandemic. I urge each of you to strive to humanize your experiences. Our frontliners are fighting more than just COVID and our patients are more than this virus. We're in this together.

Dr. Edna ( is a Internal Medicine Resident Physician based out of UChicago.

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