I thought that I was going to go back to Brazil. I was going to live on the beach again, and practice acupuncture.
I had second thoughts. My folks are very old and they live in Maine. I knew that they were going to need my help. Then, coronavirus.
Doctors are needed in the U.S., and I have a license in New York. I always loved NYC! I was ready to practice clinical medicine again, and not do administrative work.
This is uncharted territory with COVID-19. The world is upside-down, there’s lots of unknowns. I’m a doctor, that’s what I’m trained for. I can help. I can also check in on my parents.
I had a casual conversation with Dr. Andre. “You guys need docs?” Because these places always do.
I’ll be at the TFH Queensbridge clinic four days a week. Right there, with people who are the most at-risk. That’s the work that I am suited for. That was my plan. I just took a few detours.
Any insights from your journey?
We are all learning a huge lesson during this time of COVID-19: life is now. It’s this moment.
The Dali Lama said that he was baffled that Western people spent their whole lives killing themselves to make money, only to spend it all to take care of their poor health in retirement.
Yoga and meditation are about pulling yourself into the present moment, quieting your mind. Often, in Western medicine, we spend a lot of time chasing disease, and less on preventing it.
The people that we treat here at TFH, for the most part haven’t had the luxury of experimenting with holistic/alternative healing modalities.
There’s a lot of self-medicating in the homeless population and there’s tons of chronic pain because people have led hard lives, they’ve had all kinds of problems and injuries. They are just trying to get by. We need alternatives to easing pain with opioids, or just telling them to “suck it up.”
I’m grateful to be able to help in a time of crisis.
I’m grateful to be back at The Floating Hospital. This place has a beautiful mission. It was my first job out of residency—I grew with it and it has always felt really special to me.
I’m grateful that my daughter is healthy. And I am healthy.
And, I’m grateful to have a skill that the world needs right now.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.