July 10, 2020
Dr. Syed Ahmed recently wrote an essay for Pulse, an online publication that promotes humanism and compassion by the Voices from the Heart of Medicine.
Entitled “A Question of Trust,” Dr. Ahmed shares his discoveries of how essential trust is always, but especially in the times of COVID-19 as it impacts People of Color the most.
One of his conversations started with a call from an elderly patient:
My patient Rodney Marsh, an eighty-seven-year-old African-American man who lives alone, leaves a message on my personal phone: “I need a face mask. I have nobody to help me get groceries, and I’m scared to go out to the store without a mask.”
I call him. He talks about how fearful he feels about COVID-19. He’s watching TV all day long and getting confused by the conflicting messages in the media. We talk for thirty minutes, during which he never mentions masks.
“You left me a message about a face mask,” I say finally.
“Oh, yes. I cannot find one anywhere.”
“Yes, we’re short on masks everywhere, including in our clinic.”
“My neighbor gave me a mask–but it’s small. It covers my nose and mouth.”
“That’s good enough. Anything else?”
“No, thanks for calling me back.”
Mr. Marsh is a lovely gentleman caught in the midst of the worst pandemic of our lifetime. He needed someone to help him sort out the garbled mixture of fact and fiction on the news and social media. He does need a mask, but he also needs simple human connection–and straight talk from his physician. I, too, come away feeling a stronger sense of connection and purpose.
Dr. Ahmed includes several other of his personal conversations with patients and colleagues as examples of how he is helping to build trust during the ongoing pandemic.
You can read Dr. Ahmed’s full essay here.