Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In a field that strives to care for patients and families together, what can palliative care clinicians do when patients' families are physically absent? The Covid-19 pandemic has put both literal and figurative walls between health care professionals and families. How health care workers respond to these disconnections might have a lasting impact on patients, on families, and on our practice. Recently, I saw this in the case of a patient our palliative care team was consulted to see. Mr. B was minimally responsive and dying from multisystem organ failure of unclear etiology. As in other cases during this pandemic, our team became a facilitator of interaction between the patient and the physically absent family, seeing an intimacy we normally would not, in this case, by being present while our intern held the phone to Mr. B's ear for an end-of-life call from his wife, son, and daughter. Such moments force us clinicians to be even more present for our families and patients, and they allow us to bear witness to the strength and sadness and love that we might otherwise miss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-13
Number of pages2
JournalThe Hastings Center Report
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Covid-19
  • clinical ethics
  • clinician-family relationship
  • end-of-life care
  • palliative care
  • patient-family relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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