The doctor is in, but scared to see you

Yet based on my conversations with nurses and physicians, many, even those already vaccinated, still fear catching the virus from the people they care for and are reluctant to leave the comfort of telehealth to see patients in person: They have developed patient hesitancy. Hospital leaders haven’t done as good a job reassuring them that they will be equally safe providing care to their patients. Their fears are, of course, understandable. Some healthcare providers have friends in health care who have gotten critically ill with the virus, or have read the CDC analysis that reported 6 percent of adults hospitalized with Covid-19 in the U.S. worked in health care; 27 percent of them were admitted to intensive care units, and 4 percent died. Whether these health care workers contracted Covid-19 from patients or from activities outside the hospital is not known. These percentages, though, of those on the front lines of the pandemic who have fallen ill, are scary. Others have received inconsistent advice about what personal protective equipment (PPE) will keep them safe around patients either with known Covid-19 infections, or who might be infected. Some hospitals require N-95 masks, face shields, gloves, and disposable gowns for workers providing care to patients with Covid-19 on some hospital floors, but just a single surgical mask and a face shield or goggles on others. I was offered the former to see patients in clinic at my new job, but for months was told that just a single surgical mask and no lab coat would suffice at my former hospital’s clinic.