The patient’s skin was covered with Nazi tattoos, including a large swastika on his chest. Arriving in an ambulance, he was critically ill, and the patient asked Nichols not to let him die.
The compassion and commitment to his patients that Nichols has to do with his work subsided in the pandemic, CNN told John Berman in a Friday “New Day.”
Although he said he was grateful to have received the wake-up call, he is concerned about the mental health of his front-line staff, who may not have faced the stress caused by the epidemic.
“I was shocked at how it had affected me that I had never encountered such hesitation in my career,” he told CNN.
Work in one of the most severely affected states
When previous ethical dilemmas about patients arose, Nichols said he maintained his judgment and focused on treating the patient to the best of his knowledge.
“I really didn’t have a chance to talk to them with this patient,” he said. “All that was left of me was the symbol that this symbol exercised on me. It was a symbol of hatred. It challenged me a little.”
He said he responded with ambivalence in part due to the stress of the pandemic, which put a huge strain on healthcare workers and institutions. The lack of personal protective equipment and low ICU capacity have made it even more difficult for physicians like Nichols to keep patients and themselves safe.
Although the interaction with the patient shook him, Nichols said he was committed to providing the best care for all patients who need it. The well of compassion did not dry up. But he hopes other health workers will look into the extreme stress they have suffered since the March pandemic like him.