The Cry of My Heart

Can you tell me how to grieve in a pandemic?
Everyone is different; do self-care, they say.

But what if self-care is being with those I love?
Whom I dearly loved I have lost.

How could I risk bringing the virus to others beloved?
I am grieving but cannot grieve.

Because I love you.

Tiffany M. Shin, MD
Faculty Member

A Sad Eyed Woman

A sad eyed woman speaks to an procession of hearers,
who think their boredom is hidden by masks and goggles.
Halting conversation is passed through a phone while minds wander.
A plan is made, and the dreaded final question asked.
Is there anything else we can do for you today?
“No, I’m fine.” She wasn’t.

Kylan Larsen, MS







Gerald Lazarus, MD
Faculty Member

Partial Craniectomy

Two weeks into the quarantine, and the teenager’s recovering from a bout of bacterial meningitis he contracted before everything happened. He’s finally doing better. “This feels normal now,” the mother says, gesturing to the slender tubing snaking from his cranium. “I wish the rest of the world felt the same way.”

Gregory Plemmons
Faculty Member

I See You

I see you
Trying your best to smile, hoping the news’ not too bad.
I see you
Holding the phone so tight your knuckles blanch, anxiously waiting for me to get to the point.
I see you
Hear the test results, gasping in disappointment, then the sobbing. Quiet.
I see you
Because I’m human too.

Evelyn Ilori, PhD


385,000+ dead.

Suffocating grief.
A lifetime in color now gray memories
wondering when last they talked.
Could he sense when her breathing

For what are wildflowers without bees?
What brings light to leafless trees?
There is no Luis without June.
And she is gone. So he left too.

Forevermore. A numbing statistic.

385,000+ dead.

Lauren Moore


I catch her eye when she falters,
brow furrowed beneath breath-blurred plastic goggles
a pause at the sudden tears –

and then she wraps his inconsolable in white coat arms,
navy spots blossoming on sky blue fabric
– a reminder that pain can melt us together
just as much as it pushes us apart.

Haorui Sun, BS


315,000+ dead.

You yearn to escape unscathed
as daylight erodes the bleakest night.
Vaccines on the horizon met with a foreign feeling-

But it is too late. She is gone.
Empty promises of protection proved fallible
because even wildflowers wilt in the sun.

She died alone. A numbing statistic.

315,000+ dead.

Lauren Moore

Invisible Enemy

From the shadows of healthcare, we rise. Now on the front stage.
Science and planning on a moment’s notice have collided…
With a hidden enemy at our door, lives are lost in a battle of time.
Steadfast and determined, we will not fail.

Jason Stalling, MBA

Like Faded Denim

Before she coded, I had told her she’d be okay.
I can’t breathe, she said between heaves
as the mask pushed the air in
and pulled life out.
I patted her shoulder,
held her hand through her gasps.
When the team started compressions
her head tilted towards me,
eyes wide in shock.
They were blue.

Andrew J Park, MD

Thank You Corona!

You helped me realize life isn’t all about living nor death about dying.
Every death is but a reminder of what I yet need to let die within me. And I die a little when someone else dies too to in let the new life while still alive.
Your tough love made me more humane!

Sailaja Devaguptapu
Senior Research Officer


Isolated in my room, I cannot leave
Food and drink are brought to me
My breath is infectious, I must wear a mask
It’s getting lonely in here
My dog cries outside my door
I feel sick, but the sadness of this isolation drowns that
Three more days, one negative result
Freedom is so near

Amanda Rodriguez

Routine Morning

At home, like always, hunched over my computer clicking through UWorld questions. Our dog curls around my feet to beg for attention and food. Voices drift over from my mom’s phone—another day, another Zoom funeral. Which one?, I think, as I sweep my faceshield and mask into my bag for another clinic halfday.

Chioma Ndukwe, MS3

tik tok


Tik. tok.

Each with a family.
A parent. A child. A grandparent.

Tik. tok.

An aunt or uncle.
A spouse. A sibling.

Tik. tok.

A friend.

tik. tok.

Every minute, someone dies.
Not just a number, but a person.

Tik. tok.

Each with their own story.
A story cut short.


Kaila Pomeranz, DO


Fever, chest pain, shortness of breath. Death
Shackles, choking, gasping. Death
Centuries of invisible, invincible oppression

A tale of contagion and two viruses
For one- tests, treatments, vaccines, fueled by money
For the other- words and more words, running on empty

Change is coming.
Change is coming.
Change is coming today
No change is coming

Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD
Faculty Member

Not what we know, new hope

Focused in ED code stroke. Student standing nearby. Though busy and stressed, I called her over for short teaching. Both very appreciative. Students now not allowed. Not ignoring small opportunities with learners, family, friends that bring joy and purpose. May lose sight of true priorities while busy but don’t know when won’t have them anymore.

Kristie Chu

From Sketchy to Bedside

I had heard about coronavirus once prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was studying for Step 1 and was watching SketchyMicro. The “Kingdom of SARS” sketch opened with the narrator saying “Coronavirus, it’s not a super high yield virus”. If only the creators knew that this non-high yield virus would end up changing the world.

Shilpa Ghatnekar
Medical Student

Phone Calls Make me Angry and Tired

An ex-wife hearing of imminent death. An interpreter conveys another failed spontaneous breathing trial. Again, a son and daughter ask why he cannot receive convalescent plasma. I lay awake hearing the words of a terrified husband- “you are my doctor, thank you”. I prepare for another day’s sorrow with an open heart and empty soul.

Noah Rosenberg
Medical Student


What keeps
the essential workers

We the intra-helpers,
the holders
of space. Lovers of
the unloved and unlovable. We
the givers of dream transfusions.
Volunteer souls.

Hope transplants.

Social workers
donning the same scrubs,
the same masks,
the same gear.

Turning to look
into the faces of fear
looking into
the faces of fear.

Steven T. Licardi, LMSW
Behavioral Health Clinician

For The Kulture

2020 was supposed to be the year of manifestation.
A pandemic shook the table and brought endless devastation.

Tragedy took Kobe and Pop Smoke.
COVID took my stepfather and the rest of my folk.

As humans, we all matter.
But all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

Tilicea Henry
Medical Student


He was tired and wanted to go home. This was his 14th hospitalization in 3 years. He wanted his wife, his bed and his food. We could always do more. He wanted less. The pandemic made everything uncertain. No one was wearing masks yet. But Mr C did. Cancer might get him, but coronavirus wouldn’t.

R. Michelle Schmidt, MD, MPH
Faculty Member

Secure unit dialectic

Looming over her,
Yellow gown, masked,
Breath misting plastic, I barely hear:

“I can’t breathe”.
Intergenerational despair.

“Can I have my clothes?”
Crumpled on the mattress, tugging the
Baby doll around her,
“It’s for safety”, says the white nurse.
Stripped of identity
Like her ancestors.
Isolation again.
She hugs herself;
No budget for kind words.

Lisa Burback
Academic Psychiatrist

Earth-Shattering Career Obstacles

We are sorry, you did not match to any position.

Tunnel vision, seasick, mute, colorless world.

Pick up pieces, stand tall, and persevere.

Covid-19 siphon energy, dissolve opportunity.

Covid-19 deaths, screams, financial burden, social isolation.

Covid-19 innovation, virtual togetherness, newfound unity.

Develop dedication, enhance grit, broaden resourcefulness.

I am strong. We are COVID strong.

Joseph Toth
Medical Student

The First Patient

Gasping, “Something’s wrong …. lungs”
Southern visitor to ER up North.
Has COVID-19 arrived here?
Frightened, don PPE, too late.
Lips quiver behind N95 masks.
Family sent home to quarantine, intubated alone.
Last words, “Thank you… for what you do….. I hope….. you will be OK”
Great compassion. He fights but dies.
It’s not OK.

Alisa Hayes
Faculty Member

Act Now

I Can’t Breath. Please Help.
COVID-19 or police chokehold.
Emergency Medicine doctors- we see it all. Rush to aid.
Give oxygen, intubate, CT scan, medication?
What can we do? Anything? Powerlessness.
Coronavirus and systemic racism.
We can witness, We can feel, We can give voice to our patients.
Act with what energy and time remains.

Alisa Hayes
Faculty Member

The Wake Up Call

The asylum tree whence fell
Viands make, the sentry’s woodpile sell
The recrudescing baleful storms let rake
Of the falsity refuge yet seeking, leccy make
Unto the deific call, ever wake?
The Self unto the self else forsake?
The rolling fickle billow like, not rise and fall
Heed thou ergo the prodding Parnassian wake-up call!

Sailaja Devaguptapu
Senior Researcher

This is Recovery

“Most people recover” they say “This virus is no big deal.”
I see recovered COVID patients everyday; heart failure, kidney failure, liver injury, pulmonary embolisms.
Do people know?
That this is recovery.
I drive home past packed restaurants and bars.
The hospital is full. So where will these people go when they are recovering?

Amanda F. Tompkins
Medical Student

The Song and The Breath

Breath bestows a voice to song,
But song was in the air,
Then captured by the wings
That beat as long as they could bear.
As beauty is carried in body,
So song is carried in breath;
In time, when breath has ceased then, know
The song has already left.

Alexander Thomas
Medical Student

day after day after day

Up before dawn
Head strong
The weight of a heavy coat
Upon her shoulders
The weight of daily suffering
Entrenched in her heart
Peeling away layers
Exposes deeply etched scars
Left behind by this life of service
The head knows it’s true
The heart pretends it will pass
The scars tell a different story

Kimberley Williamson
Registered Nurse

In The Shadow of the Pandemic

Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer.
Think of disease, what comes to mind?
In Pandemics, we are forced to ration access to care.
With masks and protective equipment, we combat a virus.
But has this increased vigilance, made us partially blind.
A scourge still overlooked by society,
Substance use disorder, so many still suffering and dying.

Rebecca Hamburger

Kultaj Kaleka, RN
Faculty Member

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc
Faculty Member

The Veteran’s Wife

On worn waiting room chairs, I held her thin, papery hand- gold band secured between arthritic knots. “No, you can’t stay with him. No visitors.” Isolation, protocol, pandemic- excuses that could not excuse tearing apart the decades of tucked midnight embraces. Milky halos encompassing the blueness of her eyes. A blink, a departure, alone.

Rebecca Tuttle, MD MS
Faculty Member

Back to work

“ You must be frontline”
With guilt
“ I am doing televisits for now”
The hospital is eerie and quiet outside
Once inside
You forget
Residents crowd together
Affording comfort
And normalcy
You stand close to an upset father
To explain and assuage
On your way home
You are haunted by his maskless face

Madhura Pradhan, MD
Faculty Member


She can’t stay seated, fake lashes concealing tears.
Her husband is at home due to the pandemic restrictions.
Oh, my baby, she screams, aerosolizing her grief into the room.
The diagnosis slowly bruises her mind like leukemia into her son’s body.
He’s our youngest. He still sleeps with us.
She wishes he had COVID-19 instead.

Benjamin Drum

Manifested Worry

Her pupils widen at his radiant coat,
And body winces at devices dangling about his throat.

Showing demeanor of an impending escape or brawl,
I’m sure her perspiration is mostly cortisol.

As previous traumas amplify current fears,
The only diagnostic tools he can rely upon are his ears.

Rachel Roy
Medical Student

One Step at a Time in NYC

Unwound, we were and still are unraveling. In many ways, we feel paralyzed in March forever.
There’s a fire burning in the distance. What has happened to my city? Try to stare at the screen. Distant sirens ring. Just try to focus. A three digit score can give you the world- what’s left of it.

Zoha Huda
Medical Student

Eyewitness to detonation

We were both wearing masks when I evaluated you—a 90-something year-old WWII veteran.
You were only 20 serving in an airborne bombing squad. What was it like to be a witness to the first nuclear bomb to detonate in war?
You heartrendingly shared that the fallout killed many and this COVID19 pandemic felt similar.

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc, Faculty Member
Rebecca Hamburger, Medical Student


I could list each sacrifice made studying medicine on my fingers. Late studying, lesser parties, fewer friends.

Now, I watch professionals self-isolate in garages. Others explain quitting. A mentor describes sinophobic experiences. My mother recovers to alleviate her coworkers’ burden. Friends attend morning funerals online, studying at night.

Sacrifice is too messy for one finger.

Shubhi Singh
Medical Student

Out of One’s Mind

My grandfather calls my father for the third time. He does not remember the previous calls. He’s scared and doesn’t know why he is in the nursing home, even though this has been his home for the past year. He thinks the staff is keeping something from him. He thinks he may have the virus.

Olivia A Murray
Medical Student

The Beauty of a Shared Moment

“The treatment isn’t working anymore” I say.
“That’s quite alright.” she says.
“Would you like to see the chaplain?”
“Later.” A tear runs down her cheek. “Can you pray with me?”
I’ve never been religious, but I sit down, hold her hand, close my eyes and let the peace silence brings wash over us.

Onyebuchi Okeke
Medical Student

The Advising Dean

I cannot wipe your tears on Zoom or place my hand on your shoulders as you tell me about the death. If I was in your presence, I would not be able to come by your side. I can only comfort you with my voice and teach you what I know about life and medicine.

Gauri Agarwal

Med-student Do not Forget: The Strength of our Physician Formation

Butterfly= Physician
Chrysalis= Formation

It was dark inside, harsh noises outside.
Strong winds—a hurricane— stealing my breath away,
depriving the light of tomorrow.
It is my time, time to get out.
A droplet reflects my wings,
Are they broken or are they stronger?
I take a jump and soar high; I learn and fight.

Vivian V. Altiery De Jesús, MBE
Medical Student


His wife takes notes with shaky hands.” Kidneys – stable; cancer – progressing.”
“I don’t want you to be in intensive care unit again.”
I don’t want it either.
“Consider hospice?”

Six months later, a letter:
“We appreciated your
patience, your
counsel, your
gentle manner,
the e-messages after hours.

“It is too quiet around here without Randy.”

Gurwant Kaur
Faculty Member


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

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


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

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!


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

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?


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

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


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.


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


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


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

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

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.
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

“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

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
Hang fluids, give pressors, change the vent
Googles fogging, I’m now sweat-drenched
She is a nurse too

Stephen Paul Wood

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

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

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


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

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

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

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.

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.

Faculty Member

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