Apr 7, 2020
Heroes on the front line: Dr. Peter Smulowitz
Around the world, health care providers are on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus.
Many are struggling not only to treat a disease with no known treatment, one to which no human has natural immunity. They are also facing an unprecedented global shortage of the masks, gowns and gloves known as personal protective equipment, due to international manufacturing shortfalls in the face of the pandemic. That equipment is essential to preventing health care workers from getting infected themselves and from passing the virus to patients and to their own family members.
Doctors and nurses and physician assistants and other health care workers sign up to work long hours, nights and weeks, away from their families. But never in our lifetime have they been asked to put their own health and their loved ones’ health at such risk.
At Coverage, we are giving Massachusetts doctors, nurses, PAs and NPs a chance to speak to you, our readers, in their own words. We asked that they share their simplest, most urgent messages as they fight this new virus with no vaccine and no cure, a virus vulnerable only to our common human bravery, ingenuity and compassion.
Despite the challenges and many unknowns facing us, I remain grateful. I am grateful that I can use my training and expertise to help the patients who may become ill from COVID-19. While none of us wished for this, we in the Emergency Department prepare our entire careers to care for sick patients. So, in some ways this is no different, just on a different scale. I am also grateful because I have seen how all the various teams in our hospital have come together to face this as one and support each other. Finally, I am grateful that our community is taking this seriously – the more we adhere to strict social distancing measures, the more we can prevent a situation that would overwhelm health care providers’ ability to take care of the ill.
- Peter Smulowitz, MD, MPH, FACEP
Chair of Emergency Medicine,
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham
Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School