In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 25, 2022

My Turn: Dr. Amit Ghosh on the importance of being there for each other

By In the Loop
Amit Ghosh, M.D.

As new strains of COVID-19 continue to cause surges that overwhelm hospitals and health care workers, Amit Ghosh, M.D., stresses the importance of checking in on and supporting each other.

Throughout the pandemic, Amit Ghosh, M.D., Executive and Development Health, has been sharing thoughts and words of wisdom with colleagues, often in the form of stories shared in a Mayo staff forum on Facebook. His stories offered comfort to readers, letting them know that these are stressful times but there is hope.

Here, Dr. Ghosh shares his thoughts on the importance of checking in on and supporting each other through the pandemic.

Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times carried news that I am painfully familiar with: The risk of being a health care provider. Another member of our health care community, an emergency room physician, couldn't take the extraordinary stress anymore and ended her life. She was only 49. I thought, why did this doctor feel all alone? Why did she not ask for help? In her case, we will never know. I salute her for serving her patients diligently and will keep her in my evening prayers.

In moments like this, the world appears to be in chaos. For health care providers, it is not only the loss of a patient, but all the emotions of breaking the bad news to a loved one and showing empathy — it all could have an effect on the provider. When the cycle repeats many times in a day, as it happens in a pandemic crisis, a health care provider may display a variety of responses — from being stoic to being anxious and depressed. What we forget is that there is always help. We don't have to deal with it by ourselves. We are not alone.

The famous poet Maya Angelou wrote a poem called "Alone." She reminded us that nobody can make it alone. A frequent triplet in this poem was:

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

A frequent phrase that we use at Mayo Clinic is, "Can I help you?" In fact, several of my patients have described their experience to me. "Doc, all you have to do is look a bit lost in Gonda Building. I bet in less than a minute someone will come and ask you, 'Can I help you?'" 

At Mayo, you are never alone. The fact remains that in this era of hyper-connectivity and smartphones, without a human touch, we may still feel alone. A smile with a statement like, "Can I help you?" can steer us in the right direction.

I remember a story I had heard a while ago in a speech contest. A high school kid was walking with his head down when a teacher smiled and asked him, "Peter, how is your day going?"

"Fine," Peter said, and kept walking.

On the day of his graduation, with all the celebrations going on, Peter thanked the teacher for saving his life.

"What do you mean?" the teacher asked.

Peter went on to explain that on the very day the teacher asked him how he was doing, he had made plans to end his life by jumping off a high bridge. But the thought that his teacher cared about him made him change his decision. Peter works as a school counselor now.

We are not alone. We often feel, what can we give? Who cares? Will we make a difference?

The value of a smile, a phone call, a Zoom call, a letter, a text or a friendly Facebook post is most valuable during times like these.

At Mayo, all of us care for each other, the same way we care for our patients. The problem is that we often are too shy to say so or feel no one needs our help. As Maya Angelou said, we can't make it on our own. We need each other.

We can help each other and ourselves by knowing we are not alone.

Mayo works in teams. So, this may be a great time to check in on our friends and team members and remind them that they are not alone. This will pass, and we will see through this mayhem, not alone but as one big team.


Tags: Dr. Amit Ghosh, Employee Stories

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