Time to Take a Collective Deep Breath
University of Florida College of Medicine,
North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System
We live in an unprecedented time. The global crisis due to COVID-19 has both personally and collectively permeated every aspect of life and consumed nearly every second of humanity and the practices of health care workers (HCWs). As I write this, in mid-May 2020, the number of cases keeps growing. The United States has as many cases as Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France combined, and it has two and a half times the mortality of the next country on the list, the United Kingdom.
It is wonderful and rewarding to see the medical community around the world focused laser-like on trying to deal with this new disease that is creating havoc in everyone’s lives. One topic we have neglected to discuss is something that people in the health care community have experienced recently. I am not referring to discussions of HCW transmission of COVID-19 due to biohazards and airborne transmission of viral particles during aerosol-generating procedures, or about the need for and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for HCWs, as fortunately these topics have been covered well.
I am talking about a silent issue, something that occasionally has reared its ugly head and needs to be addressed. There have been episodes of psychological pressure and harassment, discrimination, rejection and even threats to HCWs, and not just about eviction from their places of residence, but also death threats to them and/or their families. These negative examples are fortunately the exception and not the rule, as many more positive and decent gestures have equally been done for HCWs throughout the world.
Everyone is under tremendous amounts of stress. We must work in unison and try to get the best out of one another, and not the opposite. This includes all HCWs, but also society in general.
I would like to propose a collective deep breath, a moment of pause, and if we can, a minute of silence to promote recognition by the human race of the challenges we are facing and, more importantly, what lies ahead.
Editor’s note: The views expressed belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the publication.