COVID-19 Nonfiction Public health psychiatry Seattle

God Help Us All.

It’s like watching something happen in slow motion, but there is somehow not enough time to stop what is happening.

I don’t know either emergency department medical director well, though we are friendly enough to send greetings a few times a year. We all already knew that hospitals across the state are over capacity. One wrote about the “brutal impacts” across the state due to the additional number of patients. And this precedes the anticipated “all time highs for Covid in about two weeks”. The other, more economical with his words, noted that his team is “maintaining”, but “that the recent surge is further stressing the teams”, adding to “moral injury”.

A friend who works for a third hospital system shared with me that an emergency department had to close down because there weren’t enough staff to operate the place. This emergency department is in a suburb, not a rural town.

It’s not just emergency departments. My colleagues in primary care are reporting that they have had more people under their care die in the past year. They’re not dying from Covid. They’re dying from chronic medical problems.

I myself have never had so many people under my care die in such a short amount of time. They, too, did not die from Covid. Instead, they died from suicide, overdoses, and chronic medical problems.

Like others, I’m watching the number of Covid cases soar. There was a time when daily deaths from Covid were only a few dozen. Now we’re somehow back in the hundreds.

During the late winter, when thousands of people were dying each day in the US from Covid, the grief would overcome me without warning. These days, I feel the mass of dread growing in my body. My chest caves in from the misshapen weight; my jaws are tight, as if they are holding back anguish that transcends words.

God help us all.