In the second season of Feinberg’s essay-based podcast, Perspectives, members of the Northwestern Medicine community share their experiences and insights from the lab, the clinic and the broader community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Lesson on COVID-19 from the 1918 Spanish Flu
In 1918, the Spanish Flu infected one-third of the world’s population, killing an estimated 20 to 50 million people. One Feinberg faculty member’s grandmother was one of the lucky ones who contracted the disease and survived. Kara Goldman, MD, is an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Read from her grandmother’s old house, Goldman recalls her grandmother’s story of the white scarf tied to the front door, a signal warning the community of the virus residing within, reminding us to take a lesson from previous generations and look out for one another.
An original version of this essay first appeared in Stat News in March 2020.
Two Pandemics: COVID-19 & Systemic Racism
As COVID-19 cases started to spike across the U.S., rates of infection, hospitalization and death disproportionately afflicted Black Americans. In May, George Floyd, a Black man who had recovered from COVID, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer, igniting waves of protests in every state. Quentin Youmans, MD, a resident physician in the Department of Medicine, addresses the intersection of these two pandemics—coronavirus and racism—and what protests in medicine might look like. Youmans is also the founder of Feinberg’s STRIVE mentorship program, which connects underrepresented minority medical students with underrepresented resident mentors.
An original version of this essay co-written with Jason Williams, MD, at Duke University Medical Center first appeared in the American College of Cardiology in June 2020.
Battling the Pandemic in Cook County Jail
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Cook County Jail in Chicago reported the highest rate of virus infection in a congregate setting. As cases in Chicago peaked, cases in the jail started to decline and by June reflected cases coming in from the community. Cook County Jail Medical Director Connie Mennella, MD, started her medical training at Feinberg in 1984 and has spent her entire career in correctional medicine, starting at the Cermak Health Services in 1991. Mennella shares how they overcame this surge in the jail with protocols like social distancing and increased testing, emphasizing that correctional health is community health.
Wellness During Pandemic & Racial Unrest
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, medical clinics and labs ramped up capacity to treat patients and develop tests, increasing already high rates of stress for physicians and scientists. Then came tragic acts of police brutality against Black Americans and ensuing civil unrest, elevating stress levels again. Carla Ellis, MD, an associate professor and director of Wellness, Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Pathology, speaks to these layers of stress and advises how we can begin to recover.