As I stepped out of my plane in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I had multiple things running through my mind. Relief was the first thing that came to me. The whole process of joining my U.S. training program had been marred with painful uncertainty due to the pandemic, and yet now I was here. The airport was very quiet that day. It was a clear reflection of how COVID-19 was impacting life in the United States. The road to the hotel where I’d stay for the next few days was lined with empty sidewalks and closed stores.
We were young, happy, in love, and planning for the future. My husband thought that it would be prudent to explore the possibility of furthering our careers abroad to ensure a secure future for our family. He was a banker but also very passionate about farming. I was fresh from university and not yet established, so we decided that I would be the first to pursue opportunities abroad.
It was Match Day! I’d been waiting for this day for three long years. As I opened the email with my trembling hands, I saw it. I refreshed the email to make sure it was real. I felt a roller coaster of emotions: I was elated, surprised, and relieved all at the same time. It was my dream come true. I matched to a university program in Boston. The next few days, I kept myself busy with paperwork and family celebrations. And then it hit me that I was going to leave my cocoon of comfort and move 7,984 miles away from home.
On March 17, 2020, our institution was designated as the nation’s first dedicated care center for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our patient population would now be only individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and required hospitalization, either from our emergency department, or from other hospitals within our network. My experience with COVID was, at that point, scarce and limited to discussions with my senior colleagues and the case reports from China and Italy.
December 2019, the month a mysterious viral outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, will be forever remembered as an important moment in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives, and strained the healthcare system and economy like never before. At the heart of the pandemic in New York City, we faced the worst. Originally from Mumbai, India and a Grant Medical College alumni, I moved to New York City for chief residency after completing my Internal Medicine Residency from JFK Medical Center, University of Miami. In this blog I describe my experience as an Internal Medicine Chief Resident working in New York City, sharing the difficulties encountered and the lessons learned.