NEW YORK – It’s been one of the most viral videos on social media this week: a seemingly never ending fleet of first responders, including in police cars, ambulance and fire trucks, driving by, honking in appreciation, honoring a physician who stands outside her house in South Windsor, Connecticut. The physician graciously acknowledges the love accorded to her – waving and blowing kisses to the personnel who participated in the grand parade.
The Indian American physician in the video circulating globally is Dr. Uma Rani Madhusudana, an Internist who works for Hartford Healthcare, at their Midstate Medical Center, in Middletown, CT. While details are forthcoming, the parade, according to social media, was for Dr. Madhusudana’s outstanding work to help victims afflicted with coronavirus.
The video was heartening to watch, and all the more poignant after a flood of reports of healthcare workers, at the forefront of the war against the coronavirus pandemic, working long shifts in pathetic conditions with lack of protective equipment, especially in New York and New Jersey. Some physicians have succumbed, lost their lives, like soldiers who gave up their lives leading a courageous charge against a mighty enemy.
Watching the video, one realizes the value and importance of celebrating the individual and her work, before sometimes it’s too late. It’s a lesson for humanity to follow; makes the world a more kind, respectful place.
According to her profile on the Hartford Healthcare website, Dr. Madhusudana got her medical degrees from Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, and the J.S.S. Medical College, in 1997. After emigrating to the US, she did residencies at the Woodhull Medical Center and the St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The love and appreciation for healthcare workers is growing in the US, like in the UK, even as reports come in from other parts of the world, of physicians and hospital workers facing assault and verbal abuse when they visit neighborhoods.
The Chicago Tribune reported this week another similar parade as accorded to Dr. Madhusudana.
Chicago Fire Department first responders rolled up in four trucks and stood outside Weiss Memorial Hospital on Saturday morning, saluting nurses and physicians working on the front line.
Dozens of Weiss staff members gathered outside the hospital entrance, almost brought to tears by the gesture, the report said. They clapped back in return.
“We should be saluting at them instead of them saluting us,” Weiss ER Dr. Tam Thai, was quoted as saying. “But the bottom line here is that we are in this all together to save lives and save our community.”
The report noted, ‘The parade was the first time many hospital staffers were able to go out in daylight, according to Director of Medical Education Teresa Tuohy, as most doctors arrive before sunrise and do not leave until after dark.’
There’s more respect and ovation coming for healthcare workers, especially in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he plans to throw a ticker tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes once the pandemic is over, to honor health care workers and first responders once the coronavirus pandemic is over, reported WCBC800 radio.
“We will honor those who saved us. The first thing we will do before we think about anything else is we will take a time as only New York City can do to throw the biggest, best parade to honor these heroes,” de Blasio said Tuesday. “I think this will be the greatest of all the parades, because this one will speak to the rebirth of New York City.”
The mayor also announced Tuesday that the city is building a strategic reserve of critical medical equipment and supplies, including face shields, surgical gowns, gloves, test kits and ventilators, the report said.
“We certainly cannot depend on the global market, we can’t depend upon our nation to produce products that tragically are not being produced enough in this nation as we’ve seen in our hour of need,” de Blasio said. “I hope that will change, I hope our country gets message that we have to start producing these things all over the country again and be self-sufficient as a nation, but until that day comes New York City we will protect ourselves.”
The medical fraternity, however, has more to worry about, than just the thought of getting infected themselves treating coronavirus patients.
CBS News reported that the financial fallout of the pandemic is affecting some of the most vital health workers in the country, with some ER doctors in at least half a dozen states who said they’re taking pay cuts of up to 40%.
The American College of Emergency Physicians said cutting benefits and shifts could force some emergency rooms to shut down.
The report said thousands of hospitals across the country are losing money fast. According to JP Morgan Chase, most hospitals make half or more of their revenue from elective procedures, which have been put on hold. Add to those losses at least a 30% decline in emergency room visits since the pandemic started due to patients staying at home out of fear of contracting the coronavirus.
One ER doctor who would not speak on camera told CBS News her hours were cut by about 50% and that she now is the only ER doctor during her shifts — down from four — making her responsible for up to 40 beds.
One physician, Dr. Natasha K, who tested 17 patients for COVID-19 a day earlier, agreed to speak if CBS News didn’t use her last name.
“We’re afraid to go into work in the ER,” Natasha said. And now she said she is also afraid to lose her job. “We feel like our jobs are more valuable now than ever,” Natasha explained. “It’s a little difficult to really digest what happened. It doesn’t really change our attitude going to work.”
The Hill reported at least a dozen nurses on Tuesday protested outside the White House demanding the administration take action to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE), reading aloud the names of 50 nurses who have died of coronavirus.
“We are here because our colleagues are dying. I think that right now people think of us as heroes, but we’re feeling like martyrs,” one nurse told NBC News.
National Nurses United is asking the administration to use the Defense Production Act to order the mass production of PPE, ventilators and coronavirus test kits, the report said.
On Monday the New York State Nurses Association filed lawsuits against the New York Department of Health and two hospitals over what they describe as unsafe working conditions and a lack of PPE.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has also urged the National Governors Association (NGA) to support removing obstacles to preserving and expanding the physician workforce during the current public health emergency.
In a letter from AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, M.D. to NGA Executive Director Bill McBride, the AMA warned that some federal state and local directives related to COVID-19 can pose potential liability risks to physicians. This vulnerability remains an obstacle to physicians seeking to fill workforce gaps during the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
To remove this barrier, the AMA asked the Governor members of the NGA to adopt health care emergency response protections to support physicians willing to risk their own health and safety in the care of COVID-19 patients.
The AMA letter noted that many states have already taken action through executive order or state legislation to provide temporary liability protections to physicians and others providing care to COVID-19 patients. The AMA suggested that actions by the governors of Connecticut and New York can serve as models for other states.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)