14:27 PM

Musings from an ER Doctor: An Intimate Look at the Team


Richard Chow, DO, takes to social media to share his musings on working as a physician in the emergency room during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Read Chow’s Facebook musings for a glimpse behind the front lines of a global pandemic as he reflects on the resiliency of the human spirit.

A quiet calmness

Absent the usual disordered sounds of the ER, I’ve become much more aware of my own steps while walking along the POD 4 perimeter.

I pause outside room 36 and lower my gaze upon a lone empty stretcher. The stretcher is made. Linens on and a gown folded neatly in place and centered. The counters cleared and the carts stocked full. In between patients, this is what order looks like. Outside the window of room 36, the night seems still.

An army stands ready

My attention turns to what is behind me. Behind me stands an army. An army of physicians, nurses, technical partners, administrative partners and respiratory therapists in watchful wait of a distant storm.

Despite outward appearances there is an underlying tension. An underlying fear. A fear of the unknown. A fear of that which is the great equalizer. For it knows no borders. Nor race. Nor age. It lurks ever present in the shadows ready to strike as a lion does its prey. Despite that a willing army stands at attention, ready to work together on what comes next.

The chaotic norm

The silence was not long lived.

A blinking red light appears from the corner of my eye. A command call. An elderly gentleman with flu-like symptoms in respiratory distress. The concerned tone of the medic on the other end relays that which need not be said. Be ready. Be prepared. ETA in 10 minutes.

The army sets about to prepare for the patient. Their worried thoughts turn towards duty and calling. Each one knows the burden upon them to care for the patient that will grace the bed of room 36, knowing that their efforts will determine whether the moments behind the patient will continue or end on this day. There is no greater privilege than working alongside such a team.

For my team

For all those I work with (both day and night). For all those I’ve worked with. For all those I’ve yet to work with. For those whom I will never work with. For this night. And for all nights to come, I have only words to help soothe worried souls for the chaos ahead:

World in blight, world alight
None in need shall escape our sight
World in fright, world’s plight
We stand united, we stand to fight
To COVID’s spite, to COVID’s might
Beware our power, beware our light

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