Bonds between physicians, patients

Seattle is enduring the unthinkable. A pandemic threw our health-care system into disarray. The ill are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are hospitalized for another reason, terrified of exposure. Hospitals are closed to visitors, forcing families to trust those taking care of loved ones are providing the highest level of care. Patients are faced with health-care workers in masks, gowns and gloves. I give plans for their health, projecting confidence, knowing this mask is not hiding the fear in my eyes.

Nothing is more rewarding in this profession than holding a hand, reassuring someone it is going to be OK. I desperately want to wipe away tears, but I cannot justify the extra gown and mask to enter an isolation room simply to provide comfort. Instead, I will keep calling the hospital phone, encouraging my patients to keep answering. If family members cannot be a source of comfort, I will.

Hospitals should always be a place of healing, both physical and emotional. Please continue to trust us and have patience as we work through this as a team. Few bonds are as strong as those between physician and patient. We must rely on those bonds to see us through.

Sally Baker, M.D., Ph.D., Seattle

Social distancing

Social distancing is a privilege. Yet this privilege seems to have fallen on some deaf ears as the rest of the world screams.

I am currently on a quarantine, having just luckily returned from a halted Fulbright Fellowship to India. My Indian colleagues will likely not be so fortunate.

India is home to 1.3 billion people on a land base one-third the size of the U.S. It is also home to the world’s largest democracy. Unlike China, India will have a grave problem enforcing the massive lockdown for its billion citizens. The vast number of homeless poor will not have the luxury of social distancing.


On its best days, India’s infrastructure is already overburdened. Its tax structure provides only the barest resources for its basic services, such as transportation, police and public hospitals. The pandemic is barreling for India, and we wait to see if the lockdown is enough.

If you find yourself grousing about this present moment, think of India and other places around the world that don’t have our advantages. If they had a chance, they would gladly take our place.

Ryan W. Booth, Pullman

Farmers markets

I was disappointed to read of Seattle’s continued policy to shut down winter farmers markets in Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill and the U-District.

Other cities have deemed farmers markets “essential and vital” food services and have continued to permit them with new rules regarding social distancing, limited hours, food handling and crowd control.

City policy doesn’t seem to reflect what these markets support and what sets them apart. Farmers markets provide Seattle shoppers with their best opportunity to purchase healthy local food from local farms at its best quality. Farmers markets provide farmers with strong sales so they (and farming and farmland) stay sustainable and intact for the future. Farmers markets also provide strong food-access support for Seattle’s low-income shoppers and are held to the same food-safety standards as grocery stores and restaurants.

It worries me that local farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley who rely on spring bouquet sales won’t make it this year. I worry that farmers who reliably bring eggs, winter crops and fresh fruit into Seattle every week won’t be able to bounce back from this. I worry that Seattle’s farmers markets will lose momentum and may disappear from view.


Chris Curtis, Seattle

Artists ‘still here’

Many artists, artisans, choreographers, writers and musicians are still making work, and for some who have a studio outside their home, it has been confusing.

I am able to walk from my Capitol Hill home to my Pioneer Square studio without interacting with anyone and keeping a safe distance. Of course, should the rules change, and further restrictions become necessary to prevent this virus from spreading, we should all follow them.

Being able to continue our solitary work is not only good for our mental health, it is a way to plan for some sort of hope of a financial future in an industry that is mostly ignored until it is bragging time for whatever any city has to offer. Then the museums, concert halls, ballet companies, etc., are mentioned.

Although the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and nonprofits like Artist Trust are stepping up with some assistance, it is going to be tough for artists and small arts organizations to survive this, as many individuals do not qualify for unemployment or other benefits not available for self-employed people or gig workers.

We are still here, still creating and not ready to be dismissed or erased.

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez, Seattle