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An emergency room doctor’s view of the COVID crisis

4 11 0
21.09.2021

In late winter 2020, when the full gravity of Covid-19 was only starting to come to light in New York City, journalist Dan Koeppel sent a text to his cousin, Robert Meyer, an emergency room doctor at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

"How are you doing? I'm worried for you."

"Hanging by a thread," Rob replied.

"Are you seeing a lot of cases?"

"Yes."

"On a scale of 1 to 10, where do you think you are?"

The answer arrived 10 minutes later: "100." After that, Koeppel encouraged Meyer to text, email, and call him about what was going on, as a coping mechanism. It eventually became a diary of sorts, and that, combined with interviews with Meyer's colleagues, became "Every Minute Is a Day: A Doctor, an Emergency Room, and a City Under Siege."

Montefiore is affiliated with the neighboring Albert Einstein College of Medicine and is home to the second-largest medical residency program in the United States, after the Mayo Clinic. It is part of a sprawling system with many buildings, labs, classrooms, and even housing for residents. Montefiore is the largest employer in the Bronx, "one of the poorest, least healthy urban counties in the U.S.," as the book points out. The area is also filled with nursing homes. All of these factors came together during the pandemic to flood the hospital's ER.

Meyer's nearly 25 years at Montefiore had given him a wealth of experience, and he and his colleagues were prepared for everything. Everything except Covid-19. But in fairness, no hospital was ready.

As early as January, doctors at Montefiore had started to hear about patients with symptoms similar to the U.S.'s first confirmed patient, who had returned from Wuhan to his home in Washington state on Jan. 15 and tested positive for Covid-19 a few days later. Around the same time, Meyer reports hearing stories of New Yorkers........

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