By the time this is published I will be done supporting ICU for COVID-19 at Syosset Hospital on Long Island in New York.
I must now be quarantined for two weeks before returning to my home in St. Louis, Missouri, where my parents are staying because of the emergency. After working in the ICU with coronavirus patients, I need to be isolated for fourteen days.
In recent days, the number of cases has decreased markedly in this area of New York. The volume was lowered enough to allow the hospital unit to return to normal function as a recovery room for the operating room.
THE GOODNESS OF HUMANITY
While working in the ICU I saw too many patients die from COVID-19, but I also came across some of the best things humanity has to offer.
From my point of view, that kindness was obvious in the health workers who accepted this challenge, attending for long days and nights, outside their comfort zones, working under extraordinarily demanding emotional circumstances and fighting a disease that plays with their own rules.
But I’ve also seen it in the community. Day after day, restaurants and families bring breakfast, lunch, and dinner for hospital staff. Signs of appreciation have been posted in all hospitals. Many homes in the neighborhood are adorned with photos and signs made by school-age children, while others have signs in the yard thanking medical care and essential workers.
And, every night at 7 pm you can hear the hustle and bustle of the cars and people cheering and cheering.
The community has also made a great sacrifice: staying home to slow down the rate of spread of the disease and allowing overwhelmed hospital systems to have time to recover and avoid collapse.
People wait patiently in line to go to stores and follow the guidelines for social distancing. There seems to be a sense of common purpose, a feeling of shared responsibility.
This does not mean that it has been easy for everyone or that the burden has been shared equally, and many are becoming increasingly impatient.
THIS PANDEMIC IS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
Sometimes I wanted things to go back to “normal” a lot, but I have found that the normal version no longer exists. It will have to be a “new normal”, maybe a better normal if we do it right. This is an opportunity for us to decide what is important and truly valuable and to create a world with more love and respect.
Without fail, every time I reported bad news to a family or called to report a death, the conversation ended with them thanking me and the team and wishing us health and safety.
Honestly, it always caught me off guard and I had to choke on my tears every time it happened. It is perhaps the deepest generosity I have ever seen.
That is why I firmly believe that if we waste this unique opportunity to create a much better world, it will be a disgrace to those who lost their lives in the fight against COVID-19 and a real injustice to those who were left behind.
At the close of this special, the coronavirus pandemic already leaves more than 4 million infected and 290,000 dead in the world, where America is now the most serious infectious focus.
The United States is the most affected nation, with almost 1.4 million confirmed cases and more than 83,000 deaths. And New York State remains the great epicenter of the pandemic with some 338,000 infected and 27,000 deaths. In New York City alone, the death toll is over 20,000.