Jeffrey B. Cooper, PhD, Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Center for Medical Simulation, Cambridge.

Jeffrey B. Cooper, PhD, Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Center for Medical Simulation, Cambridge.

A tribute to all who work in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine.

In normal times,

which yes there were,

and may never be again,

You worked your magic,

caring for those who came

in need of your healing touch

Just for a few moments

known to them,

yet their life is in your hands

As it surely would,

the stealth killer came

unexpectedly (for most)

Spreading on the wind

from the air we breathe

into the moist flesh

The vulnerable

could not stop

the mass replication

Which ravaged the lungs

the heart

the vessels

Weakened

Breathless

Afraid

They came to you

helpless to fight

against the relentless beast

And, you

also unprepared

also afraid

did not turn away.

Instead, stood firm

for those who needed you

You took care of them

even when

you didn't know how.

Redeploy they said.

There is no one else.

You put yourself in harm's way.

The human form

in front of you

fighting for life

Against some RNA

without a soul

and you with so few weapons

You medicated

ventilated

sometimes not sure how.

The rules changed

every day

every hour

You adapted.

You persevered.

Defeated your fear

Gave the best of care

not enough for some

but for others, survival

Where did it come from in you?

The passion to serve

those you don't even know

Even you may not know

may not question

it is so deeply felt

We who watched

from a distance

in awe

of your competence

your energy

your courage

and for those you saved

and those you did not,

forever grateful.

Since COVID-19 hit us, our department's quality and safety team has had a Zoom meeting every day, looking for ways to support what our anesthesia providers and support staff are doing. We've been hearing what's happening at the front lines of care and the incredible challenges anesthesia providers have been facing. The team wanted to honor all the clinicians who have risen to this occasion. After one of our team meetings, I woke up at 2 a.m. inspired by how much so many owe to all of you. When I wrote this, I had in mind those who have been caring for patients, but as our team considered more about what has happened, we realized there are many more – including all the staff who support those providing direct care – to whom this equally applies.

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Jeff Cooper

June 4, 2020