‘If only you knew’



Alone in the Emergency Dept, breathless, I wait for you

Dr. Swati Mehta, a nocturnist at Sequoia Hospital, Redwood City, Calif.

Dr. Swati Mehta

The Hospitalist will admit you” says the nurse, “she will come in a few.”

Muffled voices – masked faces bustle in & out of the room

Loud beeping machines & the rushed pace, fill me with gloom

You walk in the room, lean in to introduce

You tell me your name and what you will do

For a moment I’m more than a diagnosis, an H&P,

and then the fleeting connection passes, can’t you see?

You listen, seem hurried, but I think you care

Would you sit with me while my story I share?


I do see you, I feel your fear & anguish

A moment to know you too, is all that I wish

How do I convince you that I truly care?

When, with all my tasks I have only minutes to spare


You diligently ask questions from your checklist of H.P.I.,

Finalizing the diagnosis, when I hear your pager beep.

An admission awaits I know, but please sit by my side

Could we make our new-found meeting, a little more deep?


The minute our day begins, it’s go-go-go

There isn’t a second to pause, inhale, or be slow

Missed lunch, it’s 6 p.m., bite to eat I dare?

My shift ended 3 hrs. back but I’m still here

Notes, DC summaries, calls to your PCP

Advocating for you, is more than a job to me.

Tirelessly I work, giving patients my all

Drained, exhausted yet, for you, standing tall

Our bond albeit short lived, is very important to me

Watching you get better each day, is fulfilling for me!


You take time to ask about my family, about what I like to do

I tell you all about Beatles & my sweet grandkids

You sit & ask me “what matters most to you

I reply: getting well for the wedding of my daughter “Sue”


I sense loneliness engulfing you at times

Your fear and anxiety, I promise to help overcome

I will help you navigate this complex hospital stay

Together we will fight this virus or anything that comes our way

Each passing minute the line between doctor and patient disappears

That’s when we win over this virus, and hope replaces fear


Every day you come see me, tell me my numbers are improving

I notice your warm and kind eyes behind that stifling mask

When they light up as you tell me I’m going home soon

I feel assured I mean more to you, than a mere task


Each day I visit, together we hum “here comes the sun

I too open up and share with you, my favorite Beatles song

Our visits cover much more than clinical medicine

True connection & mutual soul healing begins, before long.


Today is the day, grateful to go home,

My body may be healed due to all the medicine & potions,

But my bruised soul was healed due to all your kind emotions.

Time to bid adieu Dear Doc – If I meet you at our local grocery store,

I promise I’ll remember those kind eyes, and wave

After all, you stood between me and death

I’m indebted to you, it’s my life that you did save!

Dr. Mehta is a hospitalist and director of quality and performance and patient experience at Vituity in Emeryville, Calif. She is chair of the SHM patient experience executive council and executive board member of the SHM San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

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