Working in the Virus’ Shadow: SARS-CoV-2 22 March, 2020, 0138 Hrs

I am an ICU physician. I have cared for HIV Patients at the beginning of what became known as the AIDS Epidemic. I have worked in conflict zones in Central America, as a physician with the (then) Revolutionary Nicaraguan Government through their Ministry of Health. I have worked with Médecins sans Frontières in North-Eastern Nigeria, the contested territory in which Boko Haram is active.
I have always respected my enemy: Disease.
Tomorrow night, I start back on service in the Intensive Care Unit. Caring for the sickest of the sick, in the Shadow of CoViD-19. In a country, the United States, led by a team – Trump and his enablers – that clearly doesn’t care that we don’t have enough surgical and N95 (respirator) masks, or paper gowns, or mechanical ventilators, or bags of sterile Saline, or medications.
They don’t care. Trump doesn’t care. I will be on the watch tower, adequate equipment or not, with my nursing, Respiratory Care, Environmental Services colleagues, and others. I don’t write this to be, as a dear colleague often says,  self aggrandizing. Rather, I write with very deep sadness.
I knew – we all know – that to be a physician or a nurse means that when our fellow humans run in horror away from disease, we run toward the terror. It is our job. It is our calling. And our death, the potential to lose our lives to this disease, this terror, is a risk. Two generations ago, it was not uncommon for physicians and nurses to die due to disease they contracted while caring for the ill. This is still a risk, whether in the rearly 1980s with the AIDS epidemic or on the plains of Nigeria.
But to potentially die doing this job because of the incompetence and disregard of the  Trump administration, to be at risk of death because we donot have the right equipment  and supplies, because we’re not prepared is disturbing beyond words.
It is as if it is World War I, and we are about to charge into a field of machine gun fire, as our officers look on, unconcerned.
My dear brothers & sisters, what are we become? I ask this 10 x 10 x 10 times. You know

About AJ Layon

AJ Layon was, for 28 years, at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in the Division of Critical Care Medicine, in Gainesville, FL. For the approximately 10 years until September 2011, he was Professor and Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF; In September of 2011 he became System Director and Co-Chairman of Critical Care Medicine in PA; this ended in 2017. He served as a Physician in the Surgical Group with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) through 2018 and is presently an intensivist in Florida, struggling through the SARS-CoV-2 crisis. While his interests are primarily related to health care, health care reform, and ethical issues, as a citizen of our United States and our world, he will occasionally opine on issues of our "time and destiny". Follow on Twitter @ajlayon
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