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On the Bright Side

March 22, 2020
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

There’s an upside to pessimism. Pessimists anticipate threats. They prepare for the worst. And when things go south, they’re ready to act.

For example, all good intensivists have a pessimistic streak. What if the blood pressure drops? What if the CT shows free air? What if stridor develops after extubation? We hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst.

For similar reasons, we need to harness pessimism to defeat COVID-19. What will we do when the waves of patients come? Will we have effective treatment protocols? Can we mitigate spread? Will we have enough ICU beds and ventilators, and are we doing everything we can to keep them from running out? By preparing for the worst now—and we are—we’ll save more lives when the patients come. It’s better to be criticized for doing too much than too little. In this sense, our stellar residents—and our hospital, school, and department leadership—are facing the crisis as they must, with clear eyes and intense focus.

But we need to look on the bright side too. Optimism sustains us. It lifts our spirits. It helps us see the good- and turn lemons into lemonade. Most importantly, optimism steers us to victory. It convinces us that we have the tools to defeat this virus, and that allows us to be focused, brave, and relentless in our efforts. We will find a cure, we will keep each other safe, and we will bring this epidemic under control.

So yes, it’s essential to look on the bright side too, as so many of you are. Damn the long hours, the relentless emails, and the social isolation! Consider this impressive list of bright-siders:

On the bright side,

  • We can wear scrubs in the hospital (John Henry Ignatiev)
  • We've learned more than ever that we're all part of a worldwide nation, let’s hope that with the lessons learned we can overcome borders! (Golsa Joodi)
  • I've been enjoying 100% of my ice cream and chocolate intake with 0% feeling of guilt! (Golsa Joodi)
  • This happened in the second half of the year, when we (at least me as an intern) are more comfortable in our clinical roles for the typical admissions we see, and can devote time to reading about COVID-19 so we can provide the best possible care! (Kelly Rogers)
  • All are working closely (in proper PPE), cheek by jowl, elbow to elbow, silo walls broken, absence of hierarchy (residents leading the way), fighting a common foe. (Joseph Vinetz)
  • I get to be in awe of how flawlessly my co-residents and interns are able to come together and support one another on over-filled services so willingly and thoughtfully! So lucky to have them!! 🍀 (Mona Lalehzari)
  • We learned about the humanity of our neighbors, flexibility of our peers, and ingenuity of unexpected collaboration (Jadry Gruen)
  • It's made me better at Facetiming my family regularly. (Jess Dolman)
  • I’ve learned how adaptable our program is to an ever-changing healthcare landscape and willing to confront crisis with poise and preparedness; I am proud to be a part of this team. (Sam)
  • It gives us all a rare glimpse of the survival instinct of our species: the human ability to adapt, support, create, and execute. (Vinny Quagliarello)
  • It turns all we baby boomers CAN learn how to use technology if we have to! (Lynn Tanoue)
  • I am taking the opportunity to get my pending work done and clean epic. Also, now we learn how to do telemedicine, but the most important how special are the people I work with. (Marya Sanchez)
  • I have regained some of my seriously rusty cooking skills, and our little family is enjoying dinner together seven nights a week! (Ben Cherry)
  • The weather is getting warmer and we will all have the best yards and gardens this spring. (Deborah Proctor)
  • So my eight year old daughter wants to be a teacher when she grows up, or maybe a doctor. She was delighted to know that as an academic clinician, I'm both. She's been practicing her teaching skills at home, teaching her five year old brother all sorts of things in the home preschool she's been running. (Marcia Mecca)
  • We are cleaning out our pantry and freezer instead of going to the store. What's for dinner tonight is a time to be creative. Like a real-life version of Chopped. (Marcia Mecca)
  • Social distancing forced us to connect via zoom and now we feel closer as a department and as a team. (Lydia Barakat)
  • Baby boomers! How about those of us born at the onset of World War II? In preparing for workshops for medical students, (note this is a plural noun), having to be done on line using Zoom! We are learning too. Yes Mark, there is a silver lining to every cloud. But you have to admit that the definition of a 'silver lining' in the Oxford Thesaurus, "consolation; solace; " is so true in this case. The shiny greyish-white lining to this cloud is barely visible. (Cyrus Kapadia)
  • Republicans and Democrats in Congress can get together and pass some legislation aimed at trying to help all Americans (Daniel Federman)
  • Because my gym closed, I am running outside in the early AMs and I am witnessing the beauty out there! (Joanna Whitehead)
  • I see how much my boys love each other, and how home schooling is filled with play and laughter (Daniel Jacoby)
  • I remembered that humans have way more in common than in difference. (Arash Aghajani)
  • I have learned that 12 yo can prepare dinner, do laundry , create curriculum to home school younger sister and teach piano -all for a "air hug "at the end of a long day (Amerisa Tarabar)
  • We are bolstering our telemedicine infrastructure (Rebecca Fine)
  • I’ve been reminded how lucky I am to have such a caring and supportive program and leadership which makes swift, informed and transparent decisions. (Rebecca Fine)
  • Over the course of 48 hours we restructured the PCC and added telehealth, restructured the outpatient VA clinics and added telehealth, moved oncology to SRC, moved Cooney to another ward, moved and restructured generalist, drastically changed the Donaldson workflow, and changed our code teams and our housestaff just kept taking excellent care of their patients like nothing changed. (Ethan Bernstein)
  • I’ve seen Yale come together like never before. (Elizabeth Prsic)
  • I’ve seen my 12NP team shine as I always know they do, but now for the whole hospital and health system to see what a wonderful job they do caring for patients at the most challenging times. (Elizabeth Prsic)
  • Medicare now reimburses for Telehealth. #ThatWasEasy (Elizabeth Prsic)
  • I finally had an excuse to try all the different Costco dried fruits (#spoileralert mangos are the clear winner) (Daniel Bui)
  • We remain a close community. We will help each other to stand taller on our feet. We will get back to the daily art of internal medicine residency (Hassan Mirbolouk)
  • “Coronacation” as my kids call it, has meant my supposed 60pound retriever-ish rescue dog (Luna), who arrived a few weeks ago and is actually over 80 pounds, is getting a lot of dog training sessions! She can sit and stay! (Ursula Brewster)
  • My millennial and Gen Z kids who were abruptly pulled home during this crisis, promptly went off to the American Red Cross yesterday and donated blood! (Lynn Fiellin)
  • Working from home means spending more time with my family…and learning how to teach 4th grade math! (Tracy Rabin)
  • Everybody is now immediately answering my 1AM e-mails (Naftali Kaminski)
  • I have seen solidarity in action at Yale. (Naftali Kaminski)
  • I do not have to prepare 4 talks on 4 different subjects to the ATS International Conference this year (Naftali Kaminski)
  • I have better appreciation for the chaotic routine of every morning to not miss the school bus and get to work on time. (Inginia Genao)
  • I’m arranging virtual hangouts with my medical school friends who are dispersed throughout the country. Our connection is a stress reliever and reminds me of how far we have come and the good we can do. (Brienne Miner)
  • I am seeing a lot more of my neighbors (from a safe 6+ ft distance) as the community takes to outdoor walks, bike rides and play. (Kathleen Akgun)
  • For my kids' facility and creativity. They have taken to making slide shows on interesting topics (that they will present end of the week! Our daughter has found this REALLY fun app where she can make quizzes on various topics. Needless to say, there were pulmonary and cardiology quizzes. She stumped each of us at least once! (Kathleen Akgun)
  • To see trash pick-up! That has been an unexpectedly important measure of societal wellness for me... (Kathleen Akgun)
  • With no gyms open, I’ve returned to yoga and meditation at home with my favorite YouTuber yogi, Yoga with Adrienne; probably way better for my knees than running on the treadmill. (Anusha Raja)
  • You don't have to wait in line for food at noon conference (Michael Mankbadi)
  • If you listen to any song closely enough, it could be an anthem for the pandemic. Generalist Workroom (via Spotify) presents a collaborative effort playlist “NOW! That’s What We Call COVID”. Requests and additions welcome, Jam with Us! (Praveena Narayanan)
  • Our residents, our chiefs, our [generalist] attendings, our nurses/BAs/Care coordination, our program director, our hospital leadership, our YNHH TEAM. (Praveena Narayanan)
  • I've seen true bravery, courage, and brilliance in all my co-residents. People who I once thought were Ravenclaws or Hufflepuffs are actually Gryffindors. (Except for you, Kendall. Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin 😉) (Becky Osborn)
  • Finally using my peloton for more than a drying rack. Passed my 100th ride! (Sarah Marone)
  • I’m hopeful this pandemic will inspire a new excitement and respect for both global health and infectious diseases! (Lindsay Vendetta)
  • Many things are quieter. The streets and the skies. Chaos, yes, but also clarity. People are reaching out to each other with kindness. I see what is important and there is a stillness in that. (Jess Dolman)
  • It’s much easier to find parking at popular state parks. (Andy Abovian)
  • We have been calling all patient's families while rounding while also conferencing in our team room (with appropriate social distancing). Even though there is a skeleton crew at the bedside, all families know the plan and the team room acts as a command center to enter orders and to cross check meds in real time. I feel like we have made technology (cell phones) work for us at this challenging time and our patients and families are grateful. (Tamar Taddei)
  • Our work stations are all cleaner now!! (Gabby Wilson)
  • I'm learning that many of my VA patients and families are genuinely concerned about my well-being. My clinic visit phone calls have been filled with well wishes like "be careful out there" and "thanks for all that you do". (Will Ackley)
  • I’ve had uninterrupted time with my daughter. It has actually been super fun to read and hike together. I think Dr Angoff would be relieved 😌 (Curt Perry)
  • I've been cooking even more than normal! Most recently made bread and pizza dough with spent grain left over from brewing beer, and sous vide octopus (Christine Hsueh)
  • Hearing from former fellows, some from long ago, who have reached out to offer good health and wishes. (Tom Duffy)
  • We get a clear picture of how humans of all types, in all places, can be affected by the same difficult conditions and can share information, technology, and resources to minimize suffering for one another. We transmit infection because we share >>99% of the same genome and we like to be around each other. We will get through this, the weather is getting warmer, and I hope our countries and health systems will be more connected and more prepared because of what we have overcome. (Phil Nickerson)
  • Sarah and I are making lots of money through our lucrative black market toilet paper dealings... I've been turning 2 ply into 1 ply for double the profit. (Max Eder)
  • It's so nice to see the way our YNHH community has come together to fight this infection. When I went to get my COVID testing yesterday I literally teared up. I was so proud of our hospital for stepping up and making their own test so that we can serve our community, proud of occupational health for setting aside testing slots for health care workers to get tested, and especially proud of the nurses and staff that were huddled under a tent in the rain performing drive through testing on their colleagues. (Max Eder)
  • I've been getting rad in the kitchen. Its been nice to have time at home to focus on my love of cooking and try new recipes. This one in particular was a big hit the other night. (Max Eder)
  • Guess who gets to spend 24 hours a day with their dog? This guy! Living the dream...(Max Eder)
  • I spent vacation at home in the company of my family! (Michael Fuery)
  • I have more time to plan my wedding! (Alyssa Yeager)
  • The Yale University area is much less crowded, making it easy to run outside :) (Manan Pareek)
  • I am grateful to be part of such a supportive community in such difficult times. Rotating through the ED I have also been inspired by the resilience of the front-line workers and I am hopeful that this crisis will bring out the best in us. I am also grateful for the rapid and coordinated response of the scientific community. It is exciting to see so many new trials in such a short period of time. On a more personal note, I have rediscovered my passion for outdoor runs in the East Rock park now that I no longer have access to a gym. (Evan Oikonomou)
  • It feels me with hope seeing people all around the world coming together through inspiring acts of compassion, empathy and team work. (Maria Diaz Soto)
  • There’s now ample parking at the VA (Andrew Levin)
  • I’ve had some quality family time with baby bonding, preschool projects, and I’ve actually had the time to read from a textbook on ICU management! Plus I can still come to virtual education (thank you zoom)! (Rebecca Forman)
  • COVID-19 reminds us of our human commonality as we fight together against this pandemic. (Gene Yoo)
  • There is no traffic on the way to work! or on the way home! (Natalie Mackow)
  • We are learning how to zoom, and learning how to have zoom game nights! (Natalie Mackow)
  • Free concerts: our downstairs neighbors are music grad students, and now are constantly home playing beautiful violin music. (Natalie Mackow)
  • We've been doing afternoon "telemedicine" rounds on Klatskin and the patients seem to really like it! (Natalie Mackow)
  • Spring is here! I've seen crocuses, forsythia, daffodils, and blooming magnolia trees, dogwoods, and a weeping cherry tree this week. Tulip greens are coming up too! (Natalie Mackow)
  • While spring is here early, and this is likely a sign of global warming, self-distancing and working from home for a lot of the world may be decreasing our carbon footprints for a short time in a big way. (Natalie Mackow, the official winner of the Coronavirus Bright Sider Award)
  • I posted the attached (my collage) to our team workroom on NP11 to uplift the morale. YNHH is now part of Avengers crew trying to prevent invasion of the earth against malicious COVID. (Denizhan Ozdemir)
  • My mom and I call each other every day to check in and chat about the latest - everything from COVID developments to family gossip. (Kevin Barnum)
  • We are now finding heroes in people who have not traditionally been heralded as such, individuals who work in low-wage jobs (the people who work in the grocery stores, the people who deliver food) who for have been so essential. (Mahalia Desruisseaux)
  • Not since 2001 have we seen as much solidarity among Americans, with clothing designers now making masks for healthcare workers and others on the frontlines; breweries/ distilleries have started making hand sanitizers and sanitizing solutions. Within the Yale community, with YSPH students helping with contact tracing, multiple disciplines at YSM coming together to work on different protocols for the care of patients. Basic scientists working together with clinical laboratories to optimize diagnostics. As always the selflessness of those on the frontlines, knowing that exposure will mean isolation from their loved ones, who still show up, every day, fearlessly, supporting one another, because we know that we are all in this together. (Mahalia Desruisseaux)
  • My first COVID-Haiku
  • I imagine hunkering down is excellent for our environment (Raksha Madhavan)
  • My love, appreciation, and respect for the people I work with has always been high, but has soared even higher (Raksha Madhavan)
  • I finally feel good about investing in some FIGS given that we will likely be wearing scrubs to work for the foreseeable future (Raksha Madhavan)
  • I have virtual chats with my family and friends more often. Also, I get to practice my cooking skills instead of eating out :)) (Zaniar Ghazizadeh)
  • I got to eat take out for the first time from my favorite local hard to get into restaurant while wearing pajamas at home with my family. (Jared Moreines)

And now for the piece de resistance, on the bright side, no virus can stop “The Match!” We had another phenomenal year, and an exquisitely talented group of new interns will join us in June (see attached).

Have a quiet and safe Sunday everyone, go out in the sunshine if you can, and always remember to look on the bright side of life,


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on March 22, 2020