Over Labor Day weekend, I read about Telosa, a $400-billion plan unveiled by a former Walmart executive to create the city of the future—one that combines the cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York, and the social services of Stockholm. This 5-million-person city promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production, and a purportedly drought-resistant water system—oh yes, and Major League sports teams.
Explore This IssueOctober 2021
News about Telosa couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’ve been looking for any distractions from the situation we’re in now. The COVID-19 pandemic and its Delta variant continue to surge. The decision to not vaccinate continues to perplex me; until our health system here mandated vaccines as a requirement to employment, a large percentage of our hospital workers remained unvaccinated. Elective surgeries may be put on hold, transfer center calls have set record levels, and leadership teams are playing a daily dance to free up beds for COVID and non-COVID patients. After a brief respite this spring, we’re back to wearing N95 masks all day in clinic and double masking in the operating room. Back is the jaw pain I get from talking while wearing an N95 and the pounding headache from wearing one all day in the OR. This pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, largely because 40% of the country isn’t vaccinated. There are many reasons for this situation, but a big one around here is folks just don’t want to be told what to do.
I hate to admit it, but this has affected how I look at my patients. How can it not when we all know that much of the current situation was avoidable? Some physicians have decided to not see unvaccinated patients, bringing about a murky ethical question, one that I’ve asked our resident ethicist, Rich Holt, to address in a future issue. But even if we decide that it’s unethical to withhold care to patients based on personal beliefs, what does it say that we’re even entertaining this question?
For those of you who haven’t had these doubts, I urge you to speak up and help lead. We need your resilience and optimism. We all need to be reminded of the privilege this job still holds and the impact we have on our patients, whether or not they fully appreciate the personal sacrifices we’ve made.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology Annual Meeting is still taking place in Los Angeles this month. Several of my friends and colleagues have made the decision not to go—some for safety, some due to apathy, and many out of pandemic fatigue. I, too, thought about bailing, but reading about Telosa was a reminder to me that a work oasis does exist: a temporary respite to our daily pandemic grind, a chance to hear about new discoveries and commiserate with people who share similar experiences.
So, I’m going, and I hope you go as well. Let’s have a drink, talk about our families, gossip about the craziness in our towns, and plan for a future that’s far brighter and more rewarding than the present we’re in now. Stay strong, and I look forward to talking next month.