Going Into the Hospital: COVID 19 (Poem)
May 08, 2020

2 minute read


Going into the hospital: COVID 19


When I walk out the door these days

For a shift in the hospital

Two small people cry at the door

My daughter and son. 

4 and 1 1/2

Tears fall

big drops against their full brown cheeks


My first inclination is to dismiss their dramatics

I will be back soon


They are on one side of the door

And I am on the other

And they would much rather be on the same side of the door

Rumpling through the leaves on the Oakland sidewalk

Taking a long walk around the neighborhood

To visit a Japanese oak,

Or a fennel bush

Or a neighbor who may unexpectedly peak out their window.


It is their immediate acknowledgment that they would rather be with their father

Wherever he may be going and whatever that might bring


When I head into the hospital

I am aware that any missteps of face to mouth or

by poor luck or chance could pull me away from 

seeing my two lovelies grow up


I can picture myself as one of my patients

trying to catch their breath like trying to catch a bus that’s too far ahead

Breathing like you sprinted a mile and another mile 

your breath won’t slow

The fear that creeps in.


And isn’t this how’s it’s always been

Life as fragile as a leaf hanging on a tall tree about to tumble to earth 

in autumn


And to be apart 

May mean to be apart longer than anyone may have predicted

And to be apart now

May cost us our lives


What I am learning from my two little ones:


give in to the jubilant joy of being with the ones we love

And mourn when they are not near


What could be more honest?

Or more important


My loves


For more context on the work Dr. Shamasunder and the HEAL Initiative are involved with on the ground in Navajo Nation check out these links:

Three minute segment on NBC evening news live

On Democracy Now 

UCSF Press Release 

ABC nightly News on story in Navajo Nation   


Sriram Shamasunder, MD, DTM&H is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF, and co-founder of Heal Initiative. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Harbor UCLA. He has worked extensively in Rwanda, Liberia, Haiti, Burundi, and India. Recently, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship where he studied implementation in resource-poor tribal areas in rural India. In 2010, he was named an Asia 21 fellow as well as the Northern California Young Physician of the Year. He continues to work with Partners in Health (PIH) several months a year.

4 Past Reflections