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Live Mic: ER doc talks coping, surviving in Covid times

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/05/09: Ambulances are parked in front of the emergency entrance to Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel Hospital amid coronavirus crisis. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 280,000 lives and infecting over 4.1 million people. (Photo by John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials reported 1,837 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more coronavirus deaths in Utah Thursday. What’s your coping strategy for punching through the COVID-19 pandemic?

A Utah ER doctor shared her insights for prevailing in these trying times.

Marion Bishop, an ER doctor practicing in Logan and Brigham City, joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic Thursday to discuss how she’s trying to stay positive and brave during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coping and surviving

Lee mentioned that Bishop had recently spoken to incoming freshmen at Utah State University.

“You spoke to them not only as an ER doctor but also as a mother and one who finds inspiration from things in the past,” Lee said. “What was the message you had for the students this year?” 

She said she was asked to speak to students about the challenges of taking risks and getting outside of our comfort zones.

“It seems to me the pandemic has asked all of us to do that,” she said. “It’s asking all of us to do things that we’ve never done before. Part of what I tried to talk to the students about was this can be an opportunity to feel sorry about ourselves or feel bitter.

“And I’ve certainly felt those things from time to time as I think all of us have — or it can be an opportunity to learn something new. And some of those new things can be life saving . . . and life changing. Nothing wrong with all of us learning to be resilient and flexible, right?” she said.

Facing reality to stay alive

Lee mentioned she spoke to the USU students about how she was unable to sleep one night, turning to read about the stories of American POWs in Vietnam. One of those stories was that of James Stockdale, a U.S. Navy vice admiral and aviator who was held as a prisoner of war for more than seven years.

Bishop spoke about the Stockdale Paradox. When he was asked which prisoners didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Be creative during pandemic

Bishop pointed out the Stockdale Paradox is analogous to what everyone is experiencing today.

“The more we can face how difficult this [coronavirus pandemic] is, the more we can then become creative about how to manage it. If I can’t throw a big birthday party for my child, how else can I celebrate his birthday?” she said.

Life and death in the ER

“What’s it like being an ER doctor right now?” Lee asked.

“Every time I go to work I’m dealing with people who are dangerously ill or close to death,” Bishop said. “Part of what is hard to understand unless you work in an emergency room is that it’s not that every patient I see is now a Covid patient. It’s that all kinds of other emergencies continue happening.

“We see motor vehicle accidents and heart attacks and gastrointestinal bleeding and all of these other rank-and-file emergencies keep going on. And then we see this other whole cohort of people who have Covid, who would never be in the ER except for the pandemic. The ER has become overwhelmed because we’re having to do everything at the same time,” Bishop said. 


Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.