A Physician’s Open Letter to Hospital Visitors

May 13, 2020

Dear Visitors: ­­­­

We love you, but for now we have to show it from a distance.

“Physical distancing,” staying away from each other and avoiding groups of people, is absolutely necessary to help fight COVID-19. This is most important in our hospitals, where the risk of catching and spreading the virus is highest. Patients still need to come to the hospital for care, but for now they can’t bring anyone with them. This can go two ways—it can make us more distant, or it can make us closer than ever.

Having a loved one in the hospital is never easy, and we know this policy makes it harder. It hurts when you can’t be there for loved ones when they need it most—even though we know it’s best for patients, healthcare providers and our community. We believe this pain of separation is proof that we need each other. Our shared discomfort with rules that keep people apart can also be the glue that helps us stick together.

The fight against COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it, and we expect even more changes in coming days, weeks and months. We’re all doing our best to cope, but many of us are feeling scared and alone. It’s natural to be mad and blame others, and to want to take as much as we can for ourselves. Yet, there has never been a time in history when the common ground that connects all people has been easier to see.

COVID-19 is a deadly virus that threatens everyone—all ages, colors and genders. Just as it affects all of us, we all have the power to help defeat it.

We’re in this together. We care deeply for our patients, and we love those who want to be here with us to support them. For now, we ask that you kindly show your love by going home!

Dr. Marielle Gross

Marielle S. Gross completed her residency in Gynecology & Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2018. She is a Hecht-Levi Fellow at the Berman Institute of Bioethics. This summer, she will join the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.