Rise

She lies in bed, chest rising and falling,
Her breath the sound of sweeping
Through glass shards.
On her window the patter
Of rain overlies a scene of budding
Leaves along the Huron.

This is how they pass.
In isolation.
The white gown
A forerunner to the shroud.
The last breaths turbulent
Before ascension.

Natalie Ailene Moreno
Medical Student

You Can’t Be Here

I’m sorry
You can’t be by your loved one’s side
You can’t be here
The virus looms here
You can’t give one last touch
You can’t give one last kiss
You will have to just watch
As breath slows, the heart slows
Then stops
You can’t be here
The Virus looms here.

Stephen Paul Wood
Administrator

First Step in a Pandemic

Familiar blue and white screen. Blocks and explanations that stopped connecting one pandemic ago. Inside is turmoil but outside is pure chaos. Do questions or ask questions of the world? Why weren’t we prepared, why are my people dying or, what causes clots to form? Will I get these answers now or after the MD?

Azana Newman
Medical Student

Birdsong

Alone. Days, weeks, months. Intimate familiarity with architecture. Waking up to a repeat sing song, “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared.”
Is that bird chirping my anxieties?
A world-wide panic attack. We are all alone together. Memories lay down on new moments and time becomes a thing to ponder. Weeks, months, years. Alone?

Chase Crossno
Faculty Member

Cry

Death, everywhere. In NY, my home, in the hospital, the world. I cry for the losses: weddings, birthdays, family, life. I cry for the people who choose to doubt instead of support. As if we chose this field not to help but to make political statements. I cry for patients: scared, confused, sick. I cry.

Danielle Cirillo
Resident

Chaos and Confusion in a Pandemic

How does it spread? How can I stay safe?
Am I infected? Was I exposed?
Will I recover?
Stay 6 feet apart. Stay 3 feet apart.
Those asymptomatic can’t spread the infection.
On second thought, yes, they can.
We wait, we experience, we try to learn, but yet, still none of us know the answers.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

July Attending 2020

Now with mask and face shield but no patient interactions for five months,
are these newly minted third year medical students ready for clerkships? Am I ready?
Imprinting: watch me closely but not too closely. Grow and be yourselves.
I pray, let the enthusiasm for the profession persist in these young minds and hearts.

Rebecca R. Pauly, MD
Faculty Member

COVID Storm

Prospects darkened pre-pandemic.
Foggy thoughts clouded the brilliant mind.
Weathered hurricanes that came with destructive fury but did depart.
Exempted by age. Isolated for safety. Exhausted by the marathon.
Surrounded with gale-force pressures. Tasks demanded. Teams prepared.
Would a hug have squeezed out the insidious inside?
Social distance maintained. Thunderous goodbye. Yet, unheard.
COVID slain.

Anonymous

COVID-Exacerbated Purposelessness

March 13: Another waitlist.

March 15: Lockdown tomorrow. Grocery store trip.

March 16: Unemployed.

March 22: Offering to reschedule your wedding.

May 6: Wedding… is… postponed. No acceptances… No job…

June 2: Off the waitlist!

June 5: Zoom courthouse wedding!

June 6: Cross-country move!

July 15: Welcome to MS1!

Anonymous

Telehealth

Poke a hole in the sky, now
On air in mid-air,
Words warped by the warp.
Vexing window,
I should be grateful
For such sci-fi conjury.
Do what I can with invisible hands.
In a viral environ,
Reins far-flung up close.
On a phlegmatic circuit,
We look through the tunnel,
The simulacrum of healing.

Michael Stephen Miller, MD
Faculty Member

Student doctors and more

“Only” student doctors, always overseen.
Gained confidence from clerkships, no longer green.
But – “only” student doctors – and pulled from hospitals.
Look back on your journey! We’re not so brittle.
PPE donated, contacts traced, patients screened.
Though not in the hospital, we have done this and more,
After all, we are student doctors
And more.

David Gao
Medical Student

Where Do We Seek Refuge Now?

1998: Hiding in the attic. “Shhhh,” Baba whispered. “No refugees here,” Jordanian police said.
1999: Mama said “America where people are free and safe” accepted us.
2020: Pandemic. Despair. Racism. 7,791 miles. Iraq to America. Still not enough to escape injustice.
White coat hangs, symbolizing the force that preserves life, instead of destroying it.

Shams Nassir
Medical Student

No One Untouched

“You need to come now.” I hang up the phone having just shattered Sam’s life and forty year marriage. He blames himself. If only he’d seen her at the nursing facility he would have known something was wrong sooner. But the virus kept him away. A death not due to COVID, but tainted by it.

Jennifer Caputo-Seidler
Faculty Member

False Advertisement

Never ending war, repression of basic human rights, and scarce quality education pushed my family to leave our home and risk imprisonment and the dangers of human trafficking. The US beckoned with abundant opportunities from across the Atlantic, masking the reality that it will always reduce me to the color of my skin first.

Daniom Tecle
Medical Student

Virtually Impossible Grief

My intern and I stand with an ipad to facetime the family -too far away, with travel restrictions. The grandmother starts to keen at the sight of her boy. He is too still now, fixed and dilated, only ventilator breaths. “He cannot be that!” broken English, broken hearts, broken composure and we all weep together.

Katherine Mason
Faculty Member

Making Do

A duckbill mask filled with the pale blue remnants of what were once elastic straps. Through punched holes, I weave thin strips of Coban and tie ugly little knots. My hair twists mutinously around these new, cumbersome straps. I swear I hear the sickly snap of each breaking strand. I never liked arts and crafts.

Nina Lemieux
Medical Student

Patient – from Latin for “one who suffers”

Can’t remember his name or surgery. Multiple pages about his irritated eyes. Internal bleeding patient took priority. Hours later I make it to his room. He looked at me through his eye watering. “I’m alright, Doc. I don’t have pain. But if you could give me something for my eye, I sure would appreciate it.”

Mike M Mallah
Resident

It Happens, Even in a Pandemic

We were two friends starting off our very first rotation. She is white and I am Indian, which made the difference. The questions started immediately.

“But where are you from?” “Are you Dr. Ahmed’s daughter?” “Love your tan skin.”

Though they were harmless, my friend never got these comments. It happens, even in a pandemic.

Meha Shah
Medical Student

Despairing Monotony

For me, the allure of an Infectious Diseases career was twofold: the somewhat guilty thrill of the differential diagnosis, paired with and mitigated by the fact that cure was typically within grasp. COVID-19 robbed me of these gratifications: diagnostic mystery and the capacity to heal. Practicing during the pandemic has been a dreadful, despairing monotony.

Emily Abdoler
Faculty Member

A Story Erased

Their dream was medicine, but it was not easy. They failed and tried again multiple times. The feeling that came with their success was immeasurable. All the sleepless nights, the stress, sacrifices, and hard work paid off. Then they hear “its easier for you because of your ethnicity.” Just like that, their story was erased.

Sanga Shir
Medical Student

Caught Useless

Seventy-something, Italian immigrant, dementia. In the COVID pandemic, there are no activities, nothing open. He worsens. Me, a soon-to-be medical student, but the lack of an MD degree stings. I cannot help my grandfather, nor dying COVID patients. If I spent a year convincing schools I am qualified, then why do I feel so useless?

Anonymous

Providing Comfort

Hair cap, N95, surgical face mask, face shield.
My daily armor
I smile, but they cannot see.
My eyes are all that are available
No family, no friends allowed; they are alone and afraid.
Compassion and love
From my soul, through my touch and my eyes
I hope to provide.

Kavita Shah
Faculty Member

A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words

Good news is a breath of fresh air
A smile long gone, one can finally wear
Radiation complete
Baby can finally eat
Smoking – finally quit
Can walk again instead of sit
The mask that protects, also hides
The greatest emotion we feel inside
Joy – a contagion free of harm
Hidden now – replaced with alarm.

Maria Shields
Medical Student

Consult & Console

“Tell me about your pain?”
The tears fell.
I expected the story of the left lower quadrant pain, which had brought her in.
“My mother, she broke her hip and she’s all alone.”
For a moment, I thought of my list of post-ops, the night already gone.
I pulled up a chair, “Tell me more.”

Chidinma S. Tiko-Okoye
Resident

Pandemic Hero

Her voice crackled on the phone.

“Sounds like hero stuff to me.”

It was embarrassing to explain that all I really do is assemble PPE and study in my room; sidelined while real doctors risk themselves on COVID wards. Medical students rarely feel useful, but now we’re reminded of it every day on the news.

Jacob Hartman-Kenzler
Medical Student

The Wave on My Run

I ran along the dusty road,
To escape the loneliness and pain untold.

Toward the old woman sitting on the porch I plodded,
She became my beacon given what life had allotted.

A stranger she remains in every sense except one,
Everyday without knowing it she saves me, with a simple wave on my run.

Anonymous

Orientation “Zoom”-ing By

In silence, scrolling through “gallery view” to make friends. In person meetings create a 10-person community but it’s more than spotty online connections can do. “This ain’t college” and it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The upcoming unknown feels overwhelming but I am reassured that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Sarah Gold
Medical Student

Withdrawal of Accreditation

Close the program. Voluntary? Hardly. Inevitable. Yes.

Told residents. Told faculty. We mourned.

Saved the best for last said residents. End of an era said faculty. We planned a celebration.

COVID-19. Black Lives Matter. We shifted attention to more important issues.

Turned off the lights and closed the door. Silent goodbye. No we. Only me.

Lisa Gilmer
Faculty Member

Our Reflections

The fall and rise, breathing holds no lies
I see you suffer, you think you are tougher
This disease is new to us, you have lost your trust
I want you to believe in our guidance and care, can we meet there?
If you refuse, you perish, your loved ones you will fail to cherish.

Anitha Chandran
Resident

There Was A Day

There was a day when life felt warm; serene and calm,
Perhaps foretold of an approaching storm,
Then there is today, like a shadowy squall,
As life dissipated into a helpless yowl,
But there is always tomorrow, unseen but felt
Of hope and love, far but near,
Like a story of history and time itself.

Hamza Ali Lodhi
Fellow

The wrong patient

Chart review: 82 y/o female with multiple cancer relapses and a poor prognosis.

”I married my high school love sixty years back. We travelled, raised kids and are blessed with great-grandkids. I have had a wonderful life ”

She started treatment before I was even born.

I wondered if I was with the wrong patient.

Roshan Chudal
Resident

Post-COVID Clinic

“So you’re who I have to blame for my hoarseness?” said my former ICU patient. “But you were REALLY really sick…” In that moment, you understood: your eyes filled with tears and gratitude, as did mine, and we were two doctors both crying over Zoom as we stared at each other, thankful to be alive.

Lekshmi Santhosh
Faculty Member

Adapting

Our family
Moved cross-country to start medical school.
All day I learn science and humanities
So that I won’t lose my humanity
When my future patients need it most.
My wife,
Pregnant, nauseated,
Isolated from old friends by distance
And from new friends by COVID-19,
Somehow cares for our son without me.
No regrets.
Grateful.

Zachary Jensen
Medical Student

Love in the time of Corona

The wedding was canceled. A package came from my mom – two masks, one white with lace, one black with a bowtie. We asked our Medicine program director to marry us on the nearby bridge. We walked down the street, our families in our pockets, our dog replacing the bridal party. It was wonderful.

Sarah Rhoads
Resident

Body Language

Back at the hospital, finally. It has been months. Everything is different. I no longer see mouths or facial expressions due to masks- only eyes. I struggle to connect with my patients and colleagues. No encouraging smiles. No handshakes. No intimate gestures of comfort. I feel inept when stripped of using body language in medicine.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

A Wandering Smile

My smile wanders, searching for a way
past my polypropylene mask to you
from my eyes to your eyes through a plane of plastic
from my hand to your hand through a layer of latex
buzzing by my vocal cords to reach your empty ears
in small words floating through the filtered air between us.

Vishesh Jain
Resident

Mental Health

A chair and a desk
In the basement of my home.
Isolation, fear, uncertainty.

A light and a chime
From the screen of my computer
doubt, nervousness, anxiety.

A laugh and a voice
Fills the air in my room.
Resilience, hope, reverie.

Notes and drawings
Sprawled across my desk.
Excitement, zeal, fervency.

Connection can heal.

Peter Vollbrecht
Faculty Member

Pressing Pause

Commitment to heal and serve others, in their most vulnerable moments of life. We earnestly swore.
Years of studies, hoping knowledge would save. Mastering the art of physical exam. Healing through touch.
Yet faced with pandemic, we are discouraged to touch.
Sent home. Knowledge paused.
Unable to heal.
The irony: Student doctors shielded from disease.

Hanna Knauss
Medical Student

Sacrifice

Spend my days taking care of sick patients.
Exposing myself.
As a result, I’m radioactive.
When I need care, I fail the screening questionnaire. Any known exposures? Yes. Lots.
My appointment delayed. Once, twice, three times.
Doctor and nurse won’t come near me. Testing delayed. Diagnosis delayed.
Caring for others, at the expense of myself.

Anonymous

Masked connections

Connections with patients form the foundation of trust
That connection used to evolve from a smile or gentle touch
Now, I smile at patients, forgetting that the smile is hidden behind my mask
I look into their eyes and see their fears and hopes
We continue on and make new connections through all the uncertainty.

Eleny Romanos-Sirakis
Faculty Member

Together Apart

Our eyes now smile for our mouths that have lost the privilege. They pierce through the tension engendered by collective fear to remind us that we are still human, and that we still have the propensity to love one another. Our eyes protect us by bringing us together, while keeping us apart.

Mika Mintz
Medical Student

Gratefulness

Our crisis wears on
And life still creates challenges
New and old to all

I know what I’ve kept
I see what others have lost
Hardships, they abound

You are on my mind
My heart goes out to you all
who give in these times

Thank you for everything you do.

Fatima Chagani
Medical Student

Safe breathing spaces

We are hunkered down afraid to breathe
Looking for hope
Within this long night
We lost a lot
Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, Husbands, wives
Alas children too

Let us fight for rights
Of those vulnerable
Let us equalize the breath
Give a gift of safe breathing space
For colors of the heart are the same.

Manveen Saluja, MD
Faculty Member

Misfortune Rising

Balancing on tightrope
Rural America and inner-city staring me down
Death haunting those I love
Lack of hospitals- grim reaper looming
Family casualties in the war of inequality and racism
New threat of COVID-19- misinformation rising
The first medical degree- potential savior
A long path- bringing awareness hopefully home.

Evelyn Darden
Medical Student

Video visit

I tell her she has a rare cancer. My voice is shaky. She laughs. She says, “Why me? Why not me?” We laugh together.
She doesn’t cry. I would have cried with her if she did. I couldn’t have handed her a tissue if she did. it’s a video visit.
I can’t hold her hands.


Zehra Tosur
Faculty Member

Optics, plastics, and haptic

Filtered breath escapes between my mask and nose,

                        fogging shield, yet

                        I clearly see your worried brow.

                        Cloth and plastic

                              muffle voices, disguise faces, lips

                              cannot hide smiling eyes.

I would grasp your warm hands

with my inevitably cold ones, tactile sensate

                        Gloved must do

                        haptics muted by clammy nitrile

                        cannot dull a healing touch.

Lealani Mae Acosta, MD, MPH
Faculty Member

Visiting

Ms. J cried, then apologized
for crying. After surgery,
I worried about her.
It was mid-March. I didn’t know what was safe.
But she was afraid, so I visited her.
She told me, “It’s too much.”
I listened. I kept my distance.
I worried about the breath
that carried my words. Still,
this felt essential.

Sharada Narayan
Medical Student

Regret

Social distancing kept me from noticing how sick you had become. Our 15 year routine of Sunday dinner, became limited to FaceTime and grocery drop offs, where you toughened up so that I wouldn’t be concerned. Now, as you reach your final days, I think that maybe you should have been my bubble buddy.

Annie Wood
Administrator

Vermont Spring

A Vermont lake cabin reserved for childhood weekends suddenly became our home for three months. My fiancée and I arrived in early March, early enough to watch the spring ice melt. We cancelled our forthcoming wedding, baked sourdough bread, and warily, perhaps idyllically, welcomed a new, inexplicable world.

Andrew Catomeris
Medical Student

A hand to hold

Ever since COVID, my patients have been scared and alone. No measure of facetime will suffice in exchange for physical presence of family and friends at bedside. That’s why it’s ever more important these days for us doctors to offer a kind word of encouragement and a hand to hold.

Julian Swanson
Faculty Member

Finding Color in the Darkness

Knitting has always been my companion; in COVID, we grew closer. She brought purpose to my hands when touch was no longer an option. She made me feel useful as the world crumbled and roused parts of my brain through creativity. Together, we discovered what could be as yarn unraveled and color returned from darkness.

Judith Brenner
Administrator

Moving Pieces

His days are long at sixty,
As they have always been.
His eyes closed briefly between cases
When the adrenaline fades.
His cough is better now.

My time is still consumed by
Books and flashcards and
Mock patient encounters,
But I’m coming, Dad.
I’ll be there soon.

Winston Whiting Oliver
Medical Student

Heal

Emotions have been everywhere. Students care and want to see patients. Residents want to experience the pandemic upfront. We must let them. We must support them. We must protect them. We must keep ourselves whole. We must let patients see our hearts and imagine our faces. We must breathe. We must teach. We must heal.

Regina Macatangay, MD
Faculty Member

Into the Unknown

She’d only let her phone ring once before she excitedly answered.
“Hi, honey! How’s work?”
“We had our first COVID patient today.”
She sat down, silently.
“It’s bad.” He paused. “Don’t…come home tonight. Just stay at your mom’s for now.”
“Until when?”
“Until it’s over.”
“But when is that?”
“…I don’t know.” He whispered.

Estelle Vu
Medical Student

My Bias

Black, purple sweatpants and sneakers, and scruffy beard, in the ER. His phone rings, “that’s my song” he asserts. Eyes roll, yeah right. “I need to be discharged to receive my Grammy” he proclaims. Eyes roll, yeah right. My bias, almost missed conversing with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy winner.

Douglas Ander
Faculty Member

The gift of touch, through PPE

Sick teen, dialysis. Went to tell her mother: ‘no changes’. She told me the loss of an infant prepared her for this child’s diagnosis, and another daughter’s. Four months ‘cancer-free’ before relapse. Grateful for ‘the talk’… “it was OK to die”. I listened, thanked her. Through PPE, I touched her shoulder: “see you tomorrow”. Tears.

Don Batisky, MD
Faculty Member

Shumard Oaks

Breaking through societal imposed expectations, statistics, and reignited resentment.

Proceeding through a heightened awareness of what Mr.Roth would refer to as The Human Stain.

I rebuke self-imposed limitations. My mind is durable, my will is tenacious, and my humanity will serve all the same.

Vanessa Vides
Medical Student

A Double Toxic Kiss

Days after both feeling sick.

“You might want to get checked.”
“Checked for what?”
“I’m at urgent care- nose swabbed and blood drawn.”
“Wait there- I’m coming.”

He arrives and gets tested.

“Where’s my kiss?”
Kisses me rather hesitantly.

Nurse comes over with my results.

“Reactive.”
“For!?”
“..M. Pneumonia.”

We patiently wait.

“…..mine says nonreactive.”

Tiffany Rebecca Sánchez
Medical Student

Local epidemiology, not in the news?

Cars arrive on the block, parking closer than 6 feet.
Visitors carry toddlers, glass containers for potluck next door.
BBQ smokes, tempting aromas aerosolize.
As people cross the exposed lawn, I see smiles, not masks.
My phone pings again, irritating.
Alerts for each new positive SARS-CoV-2.
They keep coming. My neighbors do not hear.

Kathleen Julian, MD
Faculty Member

A Good-bye

Your wan face appears on my screen.
Disappears.
A voice I don’t know says something I can’t make out.
You re-appear.
You are small amongst white sheets and blue tubes.
Silent amongst beeps and alarms.
Still amongst calamity.
The heat of your skin after gardening on a sun-scorched day or making love-
a distant memory.

Nan Barbas
Faculty Member

What lay ahead

Social distancing isolated him, and left him time to think,
A window into what might wait for him after retirement.
To avoid his future, his pain, led him to drink,
And so he came to us. We removed his shroud.
He stepped from our hands to the care of others.
We stood together, fighting despair.

Philip Brown
Medical Student

Patient Care

“There’s no heartbeat”, she says.
Not again.
Numbly trudge back to work to face another day.
First patient: “Been praying for you every day. You pregnant yet?”
I burst into tears. Very professional.
An ample, yet firm, gentle, yet strict grandmother of 11, she gives me the only comfort I’ll feel today.
A mother’s hug.

Eliana Hempel
Faculty Member

Quite the med school ride

Med school, such an incredibly hard endeavor for it’s subjects. Imagine starting your first semester just to have a hurricane blow by in September and wreck your island. Couple of years later get a 6.4 magnitude earthquake followed by the COVID-19 a couple of months later. WE WILL PREVAIL!

Jaime A. Roman
Medical Student

Quarantine Stitches

Quarantine breeds stress
Anxiety builds
Thoughts race, water runs, dishes soak, the cassoulet breaks
Blood between thumb and index finger pools
Stitches needed
Left arm raised high
Call the PCP, stay calm
They’ll see me
Thankful for community-based-care, my kind DO
Asked what I needed, listened and validated all the feelings.

Ali Smolinski
Administrator

Retrospection

Falling leaves
approaching dusk
and old photographs
make me cry.

Unshed tears
the limited time
pills large and small
constrict my throat.

Precious moments
fugues in time
halcyon days
swim before my eyes.

The touch of your hands
hope in your eyes
the smile on your face
are all I need to go on.

Ananya Das
Research Proposal Specialist

“Everything will be ok” is not the answer to everything

“Why dad doesn’t wanna wear a mask? I told him to! He doesn’t care!” —says the boy, while pulling the beanie down to his nose, drying his tears. “Does he wanna die of COVID and not be with me?”

My first Tuesday’s Children at the Psychiatric Clinic. I was wearing a colorful ribbon as requested.

Angélica Nieves-Rivera
Medical Student

Clerkship Interrupted

My lifeless whitecoat hangs on the door,
Safe to say it’s needed no more.
TikTok, Netflix, and long walks,
Sometimes it’s nice when the TV just talks.
Sitting and waiting for the pandemic to be done,
I wonder if the virus has already won.

Max Trojano
Medical Student

The Quake and the Virus

A year earlier, no one would have believed you; that Puerto Rico would live through two major earthquakes and a pandemic in the span of 5 months. Yet, here we are. The psychological and financial impact of the earthquakes was worsened by the pandemic. Nevertheless, we as medical students continue to prepare for tomorrow.

Ramon Misla David
Medical Student

When Being Safe Doesn’t Mean Being Free

Often felt helpless as a doctor. Hopeless, too. Par for the
course.
Unrestrained virus isn’t affecting me, though.
Watching friends and family on the front lines, exposed,
vulnerable.
This is devastating me.
The guilt feels quite heavy. Should I seek out ways to help?
Or do I indulge in the lack of personal risk?

Gabriel Sarah, MD
Faculty Member

Protected

I examine my patients, masks slung under noses. A toddler sneezes on me. I change my scrubs. My blue paper mask is a week old. My patient’s father has an N95. He sleeps in it alone in their private room. Every visitor masked properly. I catch myself staring enviously, maybe angrily. Then, I am ashamed.

Heather Edward
Resident

The Transformation

A once bustling unit transformed.
All patients were moved.
Short-lived quiet set in,
Broken by the construction crew,
Adding monitors, exhaust fans to the windows.
Would this be another COVID ICU?
Overnight every bed would be occupied.
This process repeated day after day,
Spreading throughout the hospital like a virus.
Tears flowed.
Back to work.

Steven J. Sperber, MD
Faculty Member

She is a nurse too

Gloved hand caresses her head, grey-white hair soaked with sweat
She looks at me, fearful, breathing strained
A mask shields my worry
My face should not be the last she would see
She slips into sleep
Intubated
Hang fluids, give pressors, change the vent
Googles fogging, I’m now sweat-drenched
She is a nurse too

Stephen Paul Wood
Administrator

Sickle No More

She presented with another Sickle Cell Crisis, day before her 22nd birthday.
My first patient as an intern.
Bilateral leg ulcers visible to the eye. Tulips delivered from her twin brother the night before.
Intravenous fluids, Dilaudid, and Oxygen.
Morning rounds, code called. Compressions performed, unsuccessful.
Beautiful peacefulness in her eyes, flowers at her bedside.

Stephen Henderson
Faculty Member

Blank Stare

Eyes wide open unable to look away from the world furiously unraveling. We began this journey to help, now we sit still, idling. Incapable of offering our untried hands; we grieve the loss of opportunity. When again will we look into a patient’s eyes? Until then, we stare blankly at the computer screen, our pedagogue.

Shelby Henry
Medical Student

Sole Soul

For my patient, I act as their loved one.
Standing vigil outside a glass door,
holding their hand in my gloved palms,
watching over them behind googles and mask.
For loved ones, I am the sole soul
standing between their family member
and the dark cloak of Death
who paces the halls watching in turn.

Sara Journeay
Resident

Solitary confinement

Donning PPE, my gloved hand on his shoulder, “Sir, you have coronavirus.”  
He didn’t move. His foot handcuffed to bedrail.

His dad died last week from the virus. Didn’t see him. Didn’t make the funeral.

“Doc, my cellie kept coughing. No way to keep us 6 feet apart. No masks. No cleaning supplies.”

Solitary confinement.

Priti Dangayach
Faculty Member

Unexpected Goodbye

It came out of nowhere when you left;
It was crime, it was theft.

Your time was short but your legacy long,
We will celebrate your life in dance and song.

I can’t say I’ve struggled like you;
But I can say I’ve been low too.

Your pain was unique;
But peace, we all seek.

Onyebuchi Okeke
Medical Student

Untitled

I wake up. Put on a mask. Can’t breathe. We sit with white coats and laptops, discussing patients with hours left. My patient grabs my hand. “It’s okay, I’m not afraid. I know where I’m going.” Tennis ball in my throat. Can’t breathe. Pager beeps: “Need you to declare time of death.” No more breath.

Mikaela Katz
Resident

The Storm

Like an encroaching storm, COVID-19 gains momentum. An ominous sky foreshadows masked isolation and death. Discontented winds sweep the land. The burden of racial injustice saturates the dark clouds, erupting in pelting rain, each drop stinging wherever it lands. Hailstones of racial violence add destruction to the deluge. Will a rainbow follow this national maelstrom?

Michael P. Flanagan, MD
Faculty Member

Like Stars

Like stars we shine and burn
Like a noble army of white coats
In eternal defense of the earth from the moon.
Armed with any number of antidotes
To save all but ourselves. For we are not immune.
Like stars we shine and burn
And burn out.

Matt Tsai
Medical Student

A chink in someone’s armor

Once she sees my raven hair and “exotic” features, will she ask me to go, ok?
As I flip another intubated COVID patient prone to ease his breathing,
I study his brown and yellow life lines.
Will I be a chink and someone’s armed, or
Will I be identified for who I am?
A doctor.

Lealani Mae Acosta, MD, MPH
Faculty Member

Fractured

They say, “It’s not a great time to enter medicine”.
They say, “This country is fractured beyond repair”.

“So America is like a skeleton”?

“Then who’s better to repair,
than those in healthcare”?

We might be scared of what’s to come.
But we will work til’ we’ve gone numb.

Lauren Pomerantz
Medical Student

Your Body Speaks

You can no longer recite your hopes and aspirations, but I’ve held the brain that formatted them.

You can no longer communicate your hardships of life, but I’ve retraced all the scars etched in your skin.

You can no longer tell me, but your body speaks for you. What a beautiful life you lived.

Jesseca Pirkle
Medical Student

MS2 to MS3 Transition……Loading

Scrolling through an endlessly disconnected social media, the light gets drained from me.

Scrolling through my emails, meaningful extracurricular opportunities re-enlightening me.

Scrolling through clinical modules to read, simulating an experience so close yet so distant for me.

Scrolling through a prolonged phase of imposter syndrome, except the scrolling function feels disabled to me.

Irfan Ali Khan
Medical Student

Becoming a Physician During the Pandemic

I choke down coffee in the parking lot. Once the mask is on, it’s on. Under blaring E.D. lights, I quake. I am your doctor. Mask, goggles, face-shield: PPE protects patients from my fear.

Taking the Hippocratic Oath, I had imagined my future fear: Will I hurt you?

But now, also: Will you hurt me?

Hanna M. Saltzman
Resident

Unprecedented times of Uncertainty

Another invisible war to fight. Headline news – “in these unprecedented times of uncertainty.” I am confused, what are we referring to, COVID-19 or how I’ve felt my whole life as a black man in America? Pause, breathe, think. Maybe knowing is not important because something is different this time. Ironically, I don’t feel alone.

Anonymous
Medical Student

Stamford

We pray before dawn
Preparing our walk along the Rippowam
Protect us, protect our child, give us strength

Holding coffee and hands
We turn quietly up Broad
Protect us, protect our child, give us peace

We kiss before masking
I follow her tired eyes and growing womb
Protect her, protect our child, help us all

Ethan McGann
Medical Student

Did my grandmother send her?

Two girls were born on the same day
thousands of miles apart. They grew up speaking Spanish.
Thirty years later, CoVID and pregnancy would bring them to meet across an ICU window.
Over shared prayers and a rosary;
intubation;
delivery;
finally – a crying baby at home with his mom.
It’s our birthday this week.

Diana Robles
Fellow

Physician Parenting during the Big Germ

To our daughters,
We needed to be at the hospital – to take care of other kids – but you needed us too. Daycare closed.
What you learned during the big germ isn’t what we planned to teach you.
About Sickness,
Hugging,
Sharing,
Childhood spring and summers.
Smiles covered by masks, tears visible.
Love,
Mama and Papa

C. Paula Lewis-de los Angeles, MD, PhD (Resident) and William Lewis-de los Angeles, MD (Faculty Member)

Everyday

“What’s your name?”
The dreaded question
You can’t pronounce it
I’ll have to spell it out
Repeat myself
Do I butcher the very thing that identifies me
For your ease
Or suffer through the routine
Of trying to assuage your discomfort
I love my name
I hate the way you make me feel about it

Anmol Hans
Medical Student

Just Another Shift

He was young. He was loved. With every chest compression we heard his voice, the wails of his family. We worked our hardest. For two hours we tried and tried. But it was for naught. For he was long gone. We said our goodbyes. Now its back to work. Another life saved. Another life lost.

Anonymous
Faculty Member

Essential Personnel

I can’t breathe.

Is it the seal of an N95 respirator
Or the sole of a black leather boot crushing my windpipe
#SupportHealthcareHeroes
Until, like Breonna Taylor, our black and brown skin is no longer made palatable by white
White ambulances, coats, and hospital badges
Make us essential personnel but not essential persons

Aaminah Azhar
Medical Student

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