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An Open Letter to My Patients During a Stressful Time

Post-election thoughts from your doctor

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To my dear patients,

This has been a difficult time to be an American. I will never forget my walk through Central Park on the morning after the election; I have never felt New York so flat and somber. This election has brought out the worst in many. I have seen its ramifications in people's health and fear that it may continue to have an impact. I want to express my goal during this time and beyond.

As a physician, it has always been clear that disease does not have a preference for skin color, gender or sexual preference. I would like to assume that every patient that I have seen has felt that in my care. Unfortunately, these days maybe assumptions about people's personal beliefs are not enough. So let me be clear, every patient that walks into my office will receive my best, including patient's who have expressed views contrary to mine. This is the oath I have taken. This is my professional obligation.

I cherish the doctor-patient relationship. For me, the practice of medicine is about the whole person, not just lab results or vital signs. For this reason, I inquire about relationships, work life, stress, and beyond. I believe that these facets of your life impact your health. I am honored that you have shared these intricate details of your life and trusted me with that information and your care. There is no doubt that the majority of us have been impacted by this election, even if your candidate won, and it appears this will continue to be a stressful transition.

There is a reason the saying _____ is making me sick exists. Well, the maltreatment of other human beings across this nation is beyond disheartening. It may impact sleep, increase blood pressure, and blood sugar so we must continue to have an open dialogue about its impact on you. You can be sure, that I am feeling its effects. I am here for you! Let's do our best together not to let them win.

I can't begin to imagine what some of you have gone through based on your race, gender or sexual preference. I will aim to put myself in the veil of ignorance, as proposed by the American philosopher John Rawls, with that goal in mind. I will listen and support you to the best of my ability. I want ALL my patients to feel that they are in a place where they can be open and comfortable, because that is what you deserve as human beings.

I have fought for a healthcare public option because I believe that everyone has the right to access all the tools they need to reach their optimal health. There have been many things to be ashamed of as an American these days, but one that strikes way too close to home is people not being able to get the medications or the care that they desire or deserve. If anything positive can come from this change of "leadership," I hope it is an improvement in the foundation of our healthcare system. Let us all stand together in solidarity as a human race to achieve this goal.

Sincerely,

Gregory B. Dodell, M.D.

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