I slide a glass door and close it behind me as I walk into a negative pressurized room to see a man in his 50s sickened by COVID-19. My patient is desaturating, which means his oxygen levels are dropping. He looks relieved to have company. “Do you think I will die?” he asks, anxiously. “I am scared.” I try to reassure him: “Don’t be scared. I am here with you. You’re not alone.” We chat a bit while he attempts to catch his breath in between.
As I care for him, flashbacks resurface of my time working to contain the Ebola epidemic in DRC—which is still ongoing. I was there just one year ago as an MSF aid worker, and no other assignment has had such a strong impact on me. Until now. So much of what is going on right here in the US reminds me of that experience far away.