Listening to COVID-19

We invite you to share virtual postcards that provide inspiration and resilience for patients, caregivers, and providers.

To contribute, send us a short story of 3-5 sentences about someone who made a difference in your day.  This can be a gesture of kindness that you encountered, or an expression of gratitude or solidarity for those who have listened or anticipated a need. Your postcard will appear here and can be shared with others.

Examples of ways to share include:

• Send a postcard to a colleague to let them know you support them.
• Send a postcard to a patient or family member who may be feeling isolated or afraid.
• Share a postcard with your care team at the beginning or end of a shift.

Record Your Story Online
Email Your Story

Or call our 24/7 Recording Line:
267 758-4646

56 Days (An Excerpt)

My name is Matthew. I am a minimally invasive surgeon in the gynecology department at Penn, where I’m an associate professor. I contracted coronavirus very early, and then I rapidly deteriorated. So I was intubated, and I remained in the intensive care unit for about 50 days and I remained on the ventilator for over 30 days. I suffered a stroke early on.

Through this whole process and my rehabilitation, I realized that I'm probably not going operating on anyone soon. I'm going to reinvent myself. I don't know how, but I'm going to find a way to be resilient and to have a career. We all go into medicine to help others. And there's still that need to help. I think that helper gene is going to be there for me forever.

My name is Matthew. I am a minimally invasive surgeon in the gynecology department at Penn, where I’m an associate professor. I contracted coronavirus very early, and then I rapidly deteriorated. So I was intubated, and I remained in the intensive care unit for about 50 days and I remained on the ventilator for over 30 days. I suffered a stroke early on.

Through this whole process and my rehabilitation, I realized that I'm probably not going operating on anyone soon. I'm going to reinvent myself. I don't know how, but I'm going to find a way to be resilient and to have a career. We all go into medicine to help others. And there's still that need to help. I think that helper gene is going to be there for me forever.

Experience the full story here

The Only Visitor

Even when I was the only visitor in the entire hospital—as most visits were prohibited during April— I never felt alone. There was always someone there, from the nursing staff to security, providing caring eye contact, encouraging words and most importantly, a smile under their mask. In his novella, Bridge over San Luis Rey, Thorton Wilder wrote, “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” The compassion of this hospital’s staff was my bridge through loss to the start of healing.

-- Lisa Martucci-Thibault's mother, Ruth Ann Martucci, was among the patients who died at Penn Medicine Princeton Health (PMPH) as a result of Covid-19 complications in April 2020

Even when I was the only visitor in the entire hospital—as most visits were prohibited during April— I never felt alone. There was always someone there, from the nursing staff to security, providing caring eye contact, encouraging words and most importantly, a smile under their mask. In his novella, Bridge over San Luis Rey, Thorton Wilder wrote, “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” The compassion of this hospital’s staff was my bridge through loss to the start of healing.

-- Lisa Martucci-Thibault's mother, Ruth Ann Martucci, was among the patients who died at Penn Medicine Princeton Health (PMPH) as a result of Covid-19 complications in April 2020

This is Not What I Signed Up For

At first, the fear that struck the staff and community about COVID-19 was immense. I remember how we talked about how horrible it was going to be and our fears of all getting infected. “This is not what I signed up for!” But today, a new norm has settled in. The talk in the hospital has changed to ‘Nice mask, where did you get that?” Not only have I overcome fear of the infection, but I have come to work each day hoping I might make a difference in containing the virus. Mask, shield gloves, gown… just another day in the hospital.

At first, the fear that struck the staff and community about COVID-19 was immense. I remember how we talked about how horrible it was going to be and our fears of all getting infected. “This is not what I signed up for!” But today, a new norm has settled in. The talk in the hospital has changed to ‘Nice mask, where did you get that?” Not only have I overcome fear of the infection, but I have come to work each day hoping I might make a difference in containing the virus. Mask, shield gloves, gown… just another day in the hospital.

My first COVID Patient (An Excerpt)

I’d like to share a story about my first COVID patient, David. The first time I actually went into his room, of course I was nervous and scared as to what to expect. I spent about an hour and a half in there, making sure he was OK. I felt like at that moment he had more anxiety than me. His family wasn't there and no one was allowed to visit. I was the only person coming into his room beside one other doctor who was there 10 minutes once a day. We built our relationship on what we were both facing.

That day that he left, I actually wasn't his nurse and he couldn't even recognize me because of me having my PPE on. And that didn't make any difference to how I felt, because I know that I had made a difference in his life, and he had made a difference in mine.

I’d like to share a story about my first COVID patient, David. The first time I actually went into his room, of course I was nervous and scared as to what to expect. I spent about an hour and a half in there, making sure he was OK. I felt like at that moment he had more anxiety than me. His family wasn't there and no one was allowed to visit. I was the only person coming into his room beside one other doctor who was there 10 minutes once a day. We built our relationship on what we were both facing.

That day that he left, I actually wasn't his nurse and he couldn't even recognize me because of me having my PPE on. And that didn't make any difference to how I felt, because I know that I had made a difference in his life, and he had made a difference in mine.

Experience the full story here

Quarantine (An Excerpt)

My name is Ara. I am a physician at Penn, and I work in Otolaryngology. At the beginning of the pandemic, after finishing about six hours of surgery, I was notified that I had been exposed to a colleague who had tested positive for Covid-19. I needed to immediately proceed into quarantine status at a hotel. My wife was pregnant and 3 weeks away from delivering. So, it was one of the hardest calls I had to make.

On my way to the hotel, my phone was dying, and in some ways, I felt like I was all alone. It was a long nine days. But fortunately, I didn’t get sick. When I envisioned going back into the society that I just left, the hardest things for me to imagine were how to stay healthy for my family and keep them safe, and how to be present at the hospital to help to take care of people who are in need. For me, I realized that there are two or three circles -- you, your family, your job, your commitment -- they all belong together, especially now. They really belong together.

My name is Ara. I am a physician at Penn, and I work in Otolaryngology. At the beginning of the pandemic, after finishing about six hours of surgery, I was notified that I had been exposed to a colleague who had tested positive for Covid-19. I needed to immediately proceed into quarantine status at a hotel. My wife was pregnant and 3 weeks away from delivering. So, it was one of the hardest calls I had to make.

On my way to the hotel, my phone was dying, and in some ways, I felt like I was all alone. It was a long nine days. But fortunately, I didn’t get sick. When I envisioned going back into the society that I just left, the hardest things for me to imagine were how to stay healthy for my family and keep them safe, and how to be present at the hospital to help to take care of people who are in need. I realized that there are two or three circles -- you, your family, your job, your commitment -- they all belong together, especially now. They really belong together.

Experience the full story here