Ob/Gyn Dispatches During COVID-19: Rini Ratan, MD

Each day during the COVID-19 crisis, we'll share an update from a member of our team in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Today's note is from Rini Banerjee Ratan, MD, Vice Chair of Education and Residency Program Director in the Department of Ob/Gyn.

It seems as though our lives have been turned upside down in the last several weeks as COVID-19 has taken a stronghold in New York City. Things we previously took for granted – children going to school, parents going to work, gathering with friends and family to celebrate joyous occasions– are all suddenly luxuries we can no longer afford.

The exponential rise in the number of patients afflicted is alarming and frightening. Yet I find myself awestruck by the power of adversity and vulnerability to give rise to astonishing courage, strength, and determination. I have been particularly amazed and inspired by our trainees – our residents and fellows have risen to the occasion with grace, strength, and equanimity. They have continued to care for our patients with compassion and competence, day after day and night after night, facing their own fears head on and putting the welfare of our patients ahead of their own. Residents who have had carefully planned, much-needed vacations disrupted have quietly offered to come in and work extra shifts, or relieve colleagues exhausted from being on the front line. 

This pandemic has proven to be a great equalizer – no longer are faculty the teachers, and trainees the students. This is a situation none of us have ever faced before – we are all learning together. At the start of my 24-hour call on Labor & Delivery last week it was the most junior physicians on the team who were the most knowledgeable. I was at once filled with gratitude, pride, and humility as they efficiently educated those of us on the oncoming team about the latest guidelines and protocols.

Even in the face of social distancing, our residents, fellows, faculty, and nurses are finding ways to connect with each other and reaching out to one other to offer support, encouragement, and love. We are in this together. I truly believe that hope is born out of adversity and struggle, and I have faith that we will ultimately come out of this stronger, together.

As our department unites to provide the very best care to the women entrusted to us, I am reminded of a quote by another incredibly courageous woman, Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Rini Banerjee Ratan, MD