In Need of a Prayer

The new patient’s name is Emmanuel. He was sent from his nursing home to our emergency room with a cough and fever. The oxygen level in his blood is well below normal, and he’s gasping for air.

It’s my third week in the local community hospital ER. I’ve been putting in extra on-call time during the COVID pandemic. It’s been rough to get back into the emergency setting while continuing my day job as a family doctor and medical educator. I’ve been sharing admissions with the hospitalist, who’s joined me in the on-call room.

“I’ll take him,” I tell my colleague.

“Sure?” he asks, eyebrows arched over his face mask.

The pager blares again.

I nod, then dash down the hallway.

Lubing up with hand sanitizer for what seems the hundredth time today, I grab gloves, gown and cap and don my N-95 mask, goggles and face shield.

Preparing to enter the patient’s room, I stop and squint at a document I hadn’t seen before on the door:

COVID SUSPECT ROOM OCCUPATION

How many minutes were you in the room?

Did you have on an N-95 mask?

Did … Continue reading In Need of a Prayer