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'Into the COVID ICU': A New Doctor Bears Witness to the Isolation, Inequities of Pandemic

Analysis  |  By Kaiser Health News  
   March 01, 2021

Paloma Marin-Nevarez, MD, graduated from the Stanford University medical school in June, right before the virus began its second major surge.

This article was published on Monday, March 1, 2021 in Kaiser Health News.

By Jenny Gold

Can't see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud.

This story also ran on Reveal. It can be republished for free.

This week marks a grim milestone: Half a million Americans have died of COVID-19. KHN reporter Jenny Gold, in collaboration with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, spent eight months following one first-year medical resident working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Dr. Paloma Marin-Nevarez graduated from the Stanford University medical school in June, right before the virus began its second major surge. She's one of more than 30,000 new doctors who started residencies in 2020. Just weeks after graduating, Marin-Nevarez began training as an ER doctor at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, one of the areas in California hardest hit by the pandemic.

Listeners follow Marin-Nevarez as she faces the loneliness and isolation of being a new doctor, working 80 hours a week in the era of masks and physical distancing. She also witnesses the inequality of the pandemic, with Latino, Black and Native American people dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than white people. Marin-Nevarez finds herself surrounded by death and having to counsel families about the loss of loved ones. We view the pandemic through the eyes of a rookie doctor, finding her footing on the front lines of the virus.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

This week marks a grim milestone: Half a million Americans have died of COVID-19.

KHN spent eight months following one first-year medical resident working on the front lines of the pandemic.


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