Diary of a Family Physician

 

Am Fam Physician. 2020 Oct 15;102(8):460.

Seiji Hayashi, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Chief transformation officer and administrative medical director at Mary's Center, Washington, DC. Send correspondence to shayashi@maryscenter.org


Seiji Hayashi, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Chief transformation officer and administrative medical director at Mary's Center, Washington, DC. Send correspondence to shayashi@maryscenter.org

7:45 a.m.

Tears welled from my eyes thinking about a patient who died this morning from COVID-19. She died alone in a busy hospital, despite her husband's plea to visit her. I have 25 patients with presumed COVID-19 on my schedule, so I collected myself and picked up my stethoscope.

8:00 a.m.

At the respiratory clinic, I noticed an oxygen tank set up. My eyes followed the clear vinyl tubing to a woman sitting in a tripod position. She presented with 10 days of fever and a worsening cough. Her room air saturation was 89%. The patient was refusing to go to the hospital because she feared she would die there. I feared it too.

12:45 p.m.

I grabbed a handful of almonds for lunch just as I received a notification on my phone – “Notice of patient death.” How do I tell my team that five of our patients died in the past 72 hours? I am currently the only physician at my community health center who can sign a death certificate online, so I need to do this quickly. Families should not have to worry about administrative forms while grieving. It's one of the last acts of kindness I can do for my patient.

6:00 p.m.

A patient is angry that she can't see her doctor in person. She lectures me through the phone, “If doctors are so afraid of catching COVID-19, they should not have become doctors.”

8:00 p.m.

I received an email from my sister, who is an internist in New York City. Her husband is a pulmonologist, and they have three children under the age of nine. She wrote, “If something happens to us, it has to be [you] who take the kids.”

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Send Diary of a Family Physician submissions to afpjournal@aafp.org.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, editor-in-chief.

 

 

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