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stethoscope and heart

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If we started the year 2020 with audacious hopes for perfect vision—seeing more clearly—we were completely blindsided. Our hoped-for year of clarity became a year of befuddlement. A year of new beginnings became a year of death.

IF WE STARTED THE YEAR 2020 with audacious hopes for perfect vision—seeing more clearly—we were completely blindsided. Our hoped-for year of clarity became a year of befuddlement. A year of new beginnings became a year of death. When I was treating patients with the coronavirus in New York City last spring, one of the greatest challenges was being fully present with my dying patients. Why? The story, unfortunately, was a familiar one during the early days of the pandemic. Shortages of personal protective equipment forced doctors to limit the frequency and duration of patient contact. Concern over virus spread meant most visitors could not come to the hospital—even when death was imminent. There’s no question that the prospect of dying alone from COVID-19 grieved patients and families. But it also caused great distress for medical professionals. No one should suffer and die alone. On this point we’ve achieved clarity. Human beings instinctively comfort the sick and accompany the dying. It’s human nature. I recall the time a patient of mine, the painter Maurice Sapiro, was hospitalized. Mr. Sapiro is t …

About the Author

Lydia Dugdale MD, MAR

Lydia Dugdale MD, MAR, is Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Associate Professor of Medicine and director of the...

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