Why I quit being a doctor in the middle of a pandemic

As a physician anesthesiologist, I am well-trained in managing airways and placing breathing tubes in

As a physician anesthesiologist, I am well-trained in managing airways and placing breathing tubes in patients. Therefore it is no surprise that my colleagues and I were summoned as the first line of providers to intubate Covid patients who require a ventilator. This is one of the most dangerous procedures a physician can do for a Covid patient.

During my career, medicine has changed dramatically.  In the beginning, I owned my own practice and had the autonomy to make intelligent decisions for my patients. Now, most of my previous practices have been sold, either voluntarily or by force, to large corporations funded by private equity. My experience with these large companies is that profits are more important than the health and safety of our patients.

When Covid arrived in March of 2020, things went from bad to worse. One hospital where I formerly worked irresponsibly continued to do elective cases despite urgings from the U.S. Surgeon General to stop.  An expose´ was published by NPR showing that elective cases continued despite the fact that the hospital was running out of PPE and the ICUs were filled to capacity with Covid and other critically ill patients.

Providing care for Covid patients does not reimburse well and many physicians, myself included, were warned that salaries would be cut drastically. The financial burden of Covid did not land on corporate investors, but landed squarely on physicians and taxpayers who bailed out many of these companies.

Despite the drop in salary, long shifts, and late nights I was willing to work and give back to my community. However, I was told that our hospital didn’t have enough PPE. The message from administrators to our community was that they had ample supply and there was no need to panic. But behind closed doors, healthcare workers were told to reuse masks indefinitely unless they were visibly torn or soiled. I asked neighbors and friends for PPE donations, and they generously stepped up with N95 masks, face shields, and respirators. But when I tried to wear the N95 or respirator in my hospital, I was told that it was against hospital policy and that I was scaring patients.

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