Dr. Taylor Nichols had to confront the difficult challenge of treating a patient with Nazi tattoos in the COVID ward.
Dr. Taylor Nichols is an emergency medicine physician based in California, one of the worst-hit states in the country. Recently, he opened up on Twitter about a challenging experience he had as a Jewish doctor. A patient came in by ambulance short of breath and, when Nichols and his team took off the patient's shirt to put him into a hospital gown, they noticed a number of Nazi tattoos all over his body. According to the doctor, the experience challenged him, CNN reports. While he and his diverse team worked diligently to make sure the patient received the best care possible, he said the "moment perfectly captured what we are going through as healthcare workers as this pandemic accelerates."
If you’re not ok, none of us are ok.— Jahan Fahimi, MD MPH (@JahanFahimi) November 30, 2020
"He was solidly built, older, his methamphetamine use over the years had taken its usual toll and his teeth were all but gone," the doctor described in his Twitter thread. "The swastika stood out boldly on his chest. SS tattoos and other insignia that had previously been covered by his shirt were now obvious to the room." The patient pleaded to not let him die and Nichols did his best to reassure him that the team would give him the best care they could. His team, he added, comprised a Jewish physician, a Black nurse, and an Asian respiratory therapist. He stated, "We all saw. The symbols of hate on his body outwardly and proudly announced his views. We all knew what he thought of us. How he valued our lives."
Our Board Member Dr. Taylor Nichols (@tnicholsmd) opened up about an extremely personal experience as a Jewish doctor treating a suspected #COVID19 patient with a swastika tattoo. via @sfchronicle @jilltucker https://t.co/cMnL1Eiwhk— California ACEP (@californiaacep) December 1, 2020
Despite this, the team operated seamlessly to help him survive. To Nichols, this moment represented what he had gone through as a frontline health worker. "We exist in a cycle of fear and isolation," he explained. "Fear of getting sick on the front lines. Fear of bringing a virus home and exposing our families. Fear of the developing surge of patients. Fear of losing our colleagues. Fear of not having what we need to take care of patients... And isolation because we don’t want to be responsible for spreading the virus, knowing that we are surrounded by it on a daily basis. Isolation because no one else can truly understand this feeling, these fears, the toll of this work. But we soldier on."
Jewish doctor’s story of treating Covid sufferer covered in Nazi tattoos goes viral https://t.co/fBY862TpEk— The Independent (@Independent) December 1, 2020
Yet, folks refuse to listen to the pleas of these healthcare workers and the science as well. They have instead chosen to call the pandemic a hoax and label healthcare workers as corrupt or liars. To add the politics of social positioning to that is a difficult thing. "I think about what he might think about having Jewish physician taking care of him now, or how much he would have cared about my life if the roles were reversed," he reflected. "For the first time, I recognize that I hesitated, ambivalent. The pandemic has worn on me, and my mantra isn’t having the same impact at the moment. All this time soldiering on against the headwinds, gladiators in the pit. And I realize that maybe I’m not okay." If this does not convince us about just how important it is to stay at home, wear a mask, and socially distance, perhaps it is time to reckon with our ability to empathize.