cover image Every Minute Is a Day: A Doctor, an Emergency Room, and a City Under Siege

Every Minute Is a Day: A Doctor, an Emergency Room, and a City Under Siege

Robert Meyer and Dan Koeppel. Crown, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-23859-2

Emergency room doctor Meyer and his journalist cousin Koeppel (Banana) describe in this heart-wrenching report the devastating toll Covid-19 took on the Bronx in the spring and summer of 2020. Drawing on interviews with hospital staff and Meyer’s “texts, emails, and confessional phone calls” during the height of the crisis, the authors vividly describe the suffering of infected patients at Montefiore Medical Center’s Weiler Campus, many of whom died alone. The disease also affected friends and family members of staffers; the parents of Deborah White, medical director of the emergency department, both came down with Covid and were admitted to Montefiore. White only asked for special treatment after her father died, requesting that his body be kept in the hospital morgue, and not loaded into a refrigerated truck, until she could make funeral arrangements. Meanwhile, Meyer’s mentor became severely ill and nearly died after initially refusing hospitalization. The authors capture the ad hoc response of even the most skilled doctors to an unprecedented calamity, describing the chance discovery that turning patients onto their stomachs was a safer alternative to ventilators, and raise hard questions about the U.S. health-care system’s lack of preparedness. Readers will gain a visceral appreciation for what it took to battle the first wave of the pandemic. (Aug.)