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Alumna Susan Padrino Reflects on Life and Work in COVID-19 Times

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
By Susan Padrino, MD
Susan Padrino

Susan Padrino, MD

Program: Internal Medicine-Psychiatry Residency (2004 alumna)
Current roles:
Associate Professor and Medical Director, Med-Psych Unit, Lakeside 40
Departments of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center
Chair, Committee on Students; Vice President, Women Faculty of the School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Location: Cleveland, OH

The first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic were full of contrasts. Everything was changing at the same time everything seemed to stand still. Every day had new policies, new rules, new tragedies. But also quiet streets, empty halls, silent hospital floors. There was a sense of closeness—we’re all going through this together, everyone stuck at home with no haircuts, no sports, no certainty about what’s coming. Through telehealth visits, I saw patients in their home environment, no makeup, maybe wearing their pajamas. Patients would ask me about my family and how we were faring, and I would tell them. And yet there was a feeling of distance too. Telehealth visits are more convenient but not as meaningful. There’s a superficiality to them, a sense of filling time. We’re used to being entertained when looking at a screen, and this is work. 

I gave my patients the same advice I was trying to follow. Make a schedule (for the whole family and the whole day), get enough sleep, turn off the screens, get outside, keep a journal. This advice was meant to combat the feeling that even though everything was changed, nothing was really happening. At least nothing you could recall. Was it Tuesday? Was it Saturday? The cadence of the week was gone, everyday more or less like the previous one. Still, in this time of worldwide difficulty and pain, I found myself grateful for so many things. One of them was this: when we had to stop and stay home to slow the pandemic, it was spring outside. The budding lushness brought a sense of hope despite the fear and the changing season gave motion to frozen time.  

Read other alumni reflections on their work and life in COVID-19 times.