I know, I know, I know. People are tired of hearing about Covid but I really wanted to hear from someone different. Someone who actually worked on the front lines, in an area different than my own and I wanted to hear his own words about what he experienced and witnessed with his own eyes. I really enjoyed this book, in fact, the book exceeded my expectations. At first, I hesitated on reading it, afraid it might contain difficult medical jargon but the book was very down-to-earth.
This book centers on Montefiore Health System in Harlem which serves about 1.5 million people annually. With their staff including their medical students, their facilities including their modern equipment, they feel that there’s no better equipped hospital to serve Covid patients than their building. Within one month of receiving their first Covid patient, the hospital gets control of the situation but there’s no end in sight. They were able to manage the shortages that came with the demand of this illness while still providing what they could to their patients and staff. The hospital experienced highs along with the lows while they provided care for their patients, those highs amongst all the chaos and despair provided hope and strength for another day.
There were many references that I enjoyed in this book, remarks that stood out as I read them. The first one referred to how the hospital dealt with the crisis. This state of mind continues today as officials examine the booster vaccine. The doctors learned as they go. They learned about the illness from others, they learned from doing something different, and they learned from going outside-the-box. This illness is new, it’s something our society has not dealt with before. This is a new crisis- there are no set rules, there is no handout to follow, no set procedures in place. We are creating the handout and the rules as the days on the calendar move forward and unfortunately, as people get sick, die, and refused to believe that this illness really exists. The second comment that stuck with me was how the medical staff put everything on hold while they dealt with Covid. How will that effect our future? What will happen if we encounter another untreatable illness? I stop and think about the implications of this time? What has this done to us as a nation and to us around the world? Has this united us or tore us apart? According to a few surveys, our children’s education has suffered. That’s our future. How long will we continue to argue and battle what is “right?”
There was a wake-up moment in Harlem when other colleagues in other areas of the hospital started to offer their help. Months earlier they’ve been too scared to help but now, they see how things are not letting up and they feel the need to pitch in but how? They don’t have the training to work in the ER. The emergency doctors took them, they trained them on something/anything that they thought they could do, they needed another pair of hands, someone to provide some relief. These newly trained ER staff members thought they were scared before, well working on the front lines now, they’re realizing just how bad Covid really is.
I didn’t expect a happy story and I found myself crying a few times while I read this book, the emotional toil and the personal stories hit me. You never knew how things would turn out. An image that stayed with me as I read this book was the person lying in the hospital, just waiting, all alone. Imagine yourself lying there, alone, isolated, no TV or entertainment, all you hear is the constant beeping of the monitors all around you and the noises of the staff as they scramble to assist the others that are lying nearby. How do you feel? Sick, helpless, defeated, worried, deflated…..
It’s a crisis that’s hitting every continent and not everyone is able or willing to stop/control it. You need to be able to live your life, not just survive but live. We need to remember all of those who have died, what we have learned through these individuals, and we need to honor those who have helped us along the way.
It’s a great read and one that I highly recommend. I appreciate the two cousins getting together and sharing this story with us and although, I haven’t witnessed it firsthand, I have heard enough stories from friends and loved ones that I don’t want to nor do I need to, to understand how serious this crisis is. Emergency medicine is constantly changing and you have to remember that no one has all the answers yet. Stay well everyone. 5 stars