Omicron is not causing as much intense illness as other COVID variants, but it is so transmissible that the countless cases being registered every day have placed a terrible strain on hospitals, doctors, and nurses all the same.

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This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about the crucial role that hospitals and health workers continue to occupy in our lives. In “A Doctor’s Dark Year,” Dhruv Khullar profiles a trauma surgeon in Boston as she reflects on the most challenging and emotionally taxing period she has ever faced. In “The First Face You See at a South Bronx Hospital,” Zach Helfand writes about Maria Lopez, a hospital staffer who volunteered to greet (and console) patients in the busiest E.R. in the South Bronx. (“The hardest part of the job, Lopez said, is knowing that patients are alone.”) In “A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary,” Danielle Ofri chronicles her formidable efforts during the unsettling early weeks and months after the pandemic descended on New York City. In “Texts from My Father, in Elmhurst Hospital,” Victor Zapana, Jr., describes how he communicated with his father, a Peruvian immigrant and war veteran, after he came down with COVID and was hospitalized in Queens. Finally, in “How to Hope: Lessons from a Children’s Hospital,” Chris Adrian recounts his experiences as a pediatric palliative-care doctor in Los Angeles. “Working with families over months and years,” he writes, “teaches you to hope that life reconstitutes on the other side of catastrophe, and that people can find joy in living again on the far side of unbearable loss.”

David Remnick


A Doctor’s Dark Year

In the heart of the pandemic, a trauma surgeon travels to the edge and back.

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woman at desk

The First Face You See at a South Bronx Hospital

Maria Lopez greets the sick, the frantic, the lonely, the grieving relatives, and the mothers-to-be.

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A man crosses a pedestrian bridge at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

How to Hope: Lessons from a Children’s Hospital

There’s been nothing ordinary about the hospital under the shadow of the coronavirus, but working with families over months and years teaches you to hope that life reconstitutes on the other side of catastrophe.

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Ambulances sit parked outside Bellevue Hospital.

A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary

A primary-care physician at the nation’s oldest public hospital keeps a journal as New York City traverses the coronavirus peak.

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man outside

Texts from my Father, in Elmhurst Hospital

“Families were shut out of the hospital, to prevent further infection; we could communicate only via his cell phone.”

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