Men’s Health is featuring #healthcareheroes, will more magazines do this?

Sometimes I try to numb myself from our new reality by eating a lot, working out really hard and/or just zoning out. I’ve recently been playing Animal Crossing from 2001 on the Gamecube and I can’t believe how comforting a seemingly boring game from almost 20 years ago is. (I have to play it in bed because the controller isn’t cordless and wouldn’t reach to the couch.) Dustin at Pajiba had a wonderful editorial recently about how we should still pay attention as much as our mental space allows, and how we should register how shocking it is to lose so many thousands of people a day. I am able to focus on distractions because I am privileged enough to still have my job, to work from home and not be an essential worker, and to have actual free time. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a frontline worker at this time, whether at the store, the post office (the post office better not get privatized!) or especially a hospital. Men’s Health has a really wonderful feature this week with real doctors, nurses and even janitorial staff. It gave me the chills to read their stories and see their photos.

42, emergency-medicine physician

I REMEMBER DISTINCTLY, I was driving to work from New Jersey, crossing the George Washington Bridge. It was March 1, and I got a call from infectious disease at the hospital that we had cases of what we’re calling “community acquired COVID,” meaning these are not travelers, these were folks from the community. I have this vision of driving across the George Washington Bridge and glancing down at Manhattan and thinking about what that would mean to have community-acquired disease in a congested city like New York, and literally from that day forward, life hasn’t been the same.

It’s an interesting situation for us, with my wife being sick and the amount of exposure that I have. Our six-year-old is staying with my in-laws, and I see him when we go on a walk or two a day. He’ll come out of the house and—we maintain distance—he brings the dog and we go on these long walks. Sometimes we’re going at night after I come home, it’s late—and my son invented shadow hugs, where we stand so that the streetlights hit us just right, we get our shadows to hug and give high fives. Those are the best five minutes of my day.

46, staff nurse

YESTERDAY AND THE day before and the day before and the day before—they all kind of just melt into one at this point. This is my 28th day in a row. Each day you come in and it’s just a new crisis. Or it’s almost always a new crisis. We just try to deal with them as quickly and as professionally as we can. I think, coming into work, I’m always hoping for that patient to get extubated today. Or that patient, their labs to just look a little bit better today. And it’s very slow. It’s not like anything we’ve ever seen. These patients, they stay sick for so much longer than what we’re used to. So each day the hope is that there’s gonna be an improvement.

I used to get frustrated with my father, who died 16 years ago, because he always did above and beyond for people, and he didn’t get the gratitude he deserved. And he did it for people who just didn’t deserve it sometimes. And I asked him why he did it. And his answer was always the same. It was: “Because you should.” And that’s what keeps me going.

28, environmental-services worker

MY SUPERVISOR CALLED me to the side and asked me if I have a problem going into these rooms. I said, “No, I have no problem. As long as I have the proper PPEs and the proper equipment to go into rooms, I wouldn’t mind to go in.” If that was me in that bed, I would like people to come inside and, you know, clean for me. Because that’s what we’re here to do. Making sure everything is clean and organized so the doctors and the nurses can do their job. So she just asked me, Can you go inside this room? I say, “Of course I can.” That’s how everything started. Ever since that morning, we just work without stopping.

[From Men's Health]

I really loved how the cleaner put himself in the position of a patient and said he would want someone to come in and clean for him too. I also felt it when the ER physician described the first time he heard about COVID and how that made him realize that everything would change moving forward. When 9-11 happened we all shared that moment of seeing the planes hit and then the towers fell, but during the pandemic we each have a personal memory of knowing that everything had changed. Mine was a visit to the grocery store in mid March. I was the only person wearing a bandanna and everyone else was wearing gloves. A woman who worked at my son’s school smiled at me sweetly. It was more knowing than condescending. Getting back to these heroes, I’ve also heard criticism that we’re calling them heroes because they’re dying for us by taking care of us, and that we should honor them by making sure they have plenty of PPE. That’s true! We also hear the lengths they’re going and the hard hours they’re putting in to care for us, our friends and our loved ones and that makes them heroes as well. We owe them so much and they deserve to be on magazine covers too.




photos credit Men’s Health received via promotional email

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25 Responses to “Men’s Health is featuring #healthcareheroes, will more magazines do this?”

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  1. Esmom says:

    “Shadow hugs.” This post did more than give me chills, it made me cry. I’m reminded of the dedication of the doctors, nurses and other staff who took a vested interest in my son’s recovery when he was hospitalized with a nearly lethal pneumonia a few years ago. And I am humbled by the people so willing to put themselves in harm’s way.

    On the flip side I have a gym acquaintance ranting on FB about how our state’s five-phase re-opening is BS and that our (competent, compassionate and humble) governor should be voted out, that we need “exposure” to build immunity, blah, blah, blah. She applauds people who agree with her and dismisses or ignores people who are trying to chime in with reasonable perspectives and, you know, facts.

    We are in for a sh^tty fall and all our sacrifice now will be for naught because too many people are “over” this and want to get back to the bars or the beach or wherever. I’m numb.

  2. Jenn says:

    While I don’t want to take anything away from these hard working people, I have to say this. Don’t wear your masks like that! If the average person sees the medical professionals doing it, they will too.
    This is wrong.
    It does you absolutely no good if you’re wearing it incorrectly. I’m in dental, not medical, and this bothers me so much right now! Put the mask on, don’t touch it until it’s time to take it off. Don’t ever wear it under your chin or around your neck, because all the bacteria on the front of it is now getting to places you wore it to cover up.

    • Esmom says:

      I didn’t think about that, assumed that most people would understand that these photos are stylized. But you are right in that people are just not that smart about wearing their masks. I can’t tell you how many people I see wearing them with their noses uncovered, including the cashier at my local grocery store, and it drives me bonkers.

    • Léna says:

      That was my first reaction too, why are they wearing the masks like that!! I cringe Everytime I see someone do this on tv

    • Arpeggi says:

      Hahaha! Your post wasn’t showing when I posted mine, but yeah. I screamed too. I don’t get why you’d want to stylize the photo to make them look stupid because ultimately, that’s what happens if you’re shown almost eating your mask…

      This is one thing that worries me when my research institute will re-open: I see enough ppl not wearing gloves properly in normal times (keeping them on as they open door, pushing elevator buttons with them… I’ve also seen dude going to the bathroom with their lab coat on and I almost followed them in to scream at them), I dunno what’s going to happen if we have to add masks too. I guess I’ll have to start lecturing ppl on the floor until they get annoyed enough to wear their PPE properly

    • Jenn says:

      And….why didn’t these health professionals say no to wearing them that way?

      • Amy says:

        Yes because I imagine people who have been spending all their time helping people save alive and largely go unnoticed in the world thought about how to direct a photo shoot.

        This was lovely and highlighted wonderful people doing something great why does everyone always have to pick and be negative. It is exhausting let them have this

    • Sunday says:

      This was my exact reaction. Features like this are incredibly important and impactful, and magazines should keep doing this, but for goodness sake DON’T PUBLISH IMAGES PROMOTING UNSAFE MASK USAGE!! Way to completely undermine your own cover story with completely tone deaf and irresponsible cover images. Unbelievable. They’re not alone, though; in nearly every Coronavirus infomercial I’ve seen, the swelling music and uplifting thanking of heroes usually plays against a slideshow featuring at least half the people not adhering to proper social distancing, touching their faces, or not wearing masks. Great job, guys.

  3. Arpeggi says:

    It’s a great shoutout, that’s really nice.

    But if you’re going to do this, why out of the 3 covers, 2 are wearing masks in a way that put their health in danger? The 1st cover with the environmental service worker, the mask is in his lips… Did the photoshoot director thought it was sexy even if that’s the kind of thing that’ll get you sick? We ought to celebrate what they are doing, it’s more than enough, no need to make it “hot” but unrealistic

  4. Jo73c says:

    ‘Shadow hugs’
    I’m not crying, you’re crying.

  5. emmy says:

    I keep wondering how many countries will start paying people better when this is over. Health care workers – except doctors – aren’t paid nearly enough, almost nowhere. I think it’s about time that we’re all being hit in the face with it and recognize their contributions to society, putting them on magazine covers and clapping. But if we don’t follow through with cold, hard cash and better working conditions, this will look horribly insulting in a few years.

    • Mara says:

      Agree, it’s been really noticeable that most of our essential/key workers are also most of our poorest paid.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Believe it or not, even doctors are underpaid in comparison to the costs of their schooling and professional requirements now, at least in America. A lot come out with over $200K in debt, and then there’s a ton of licensing, routine continuous education, malpractice insurance, etc. that they have to pay for. Their average hours worked per work averages around sixty. I think Forbes or one of the big economic magazines once calculated that plumbers actually more per dollar on their education than doctors in the long run.

  6. Amy says:

    I don’t know if they will but they should. They should also highlight the people working in grocery stores and pharmacies. this is truly fantastic and I hope when this is over we remember all the people like the hospital orderlies and cleaning staff that sacrificed for our safety.

  7. lucy2 says:

    The shadow hugs…heartbreaking.

    I really love that the magazine did this, and that they featured people from all aspects of the hospital.

    All of the people screaming “OPEN!” so they can get their haircut need to see what these medical workers are dealing with every minute of every day, and what they are sacrificing.

  8. Veronica S. says:

    Be nice if the media stopped deifying them and instead focused on how they are human beings who deserve to be treated with the respect of that. The lack of PPE available for these people is beyond criminal, and that’s not even getting into how many of them are seeing pay cuts during this time. Absolute disregard for the lives of people who work healthcare systems.

  9. Faye G says:

    I love this feature, I hope they start showing workers from other parts of the country as well! That paramedic is giving off some serious heat.

  10. Jensies says:

    It feels weird to say this, and no disrespect meant at all to the healthcare workers out there on the front lines, but. . .I’m a therapist, working at a community mental health clinic. I’m not seeing people face to face right now, it’s all telephone and zoom, but it’s the most exhausting work of my career. Not being able to see clients and read body language, having the same conversations over and over, dealing with our own mental health while also attending to our clients. Most therapists and social workers are still working and considered essential workers, and getting little to no recognition for the fact that we’re working really hard, with fewer resources for ourselves and our clients, just trying to be there and hold space for our clients, and deal with the trauma that’s coming up over this. /r

    • Anna says:

      Thank you for mentioning this and thank you for the incredible work you are doing to support people during this time. I would be lost without my therapist in good times but now, she is my lifeline. I look forward to that hour every week and I worry about her and hope she’s okay (while also maintaining a professional distance as a client so I don’t pry). Thank you and bless you.

      • Jensies says:

        Thank you, and I’m so glad you’ve got someone during this time. It feels really good to be able to help folks right now, and I love hearing that therapy is helping folks. :)

    • Anony83 says:

      Thank you for continuing to work and I hope you know that we all not only appreciate the work you are doing now when I’m sure YOU’RE struggling too, but we appreciate the work you’re going to be doing in the future as the true extent of the trauma from all this becomes clear.

      I really also hope that you know that when we thank other front line workers that we are not excluding you from that – (a) I consider you a front line worker (full stop) but also (b) there are so MANY helpers right now that it can literally be hard to honor them all.

      The work you are doing is so important right now and I at least do not take it for granted at all. And I KNOW that in the next months/years, your colleagues throughout the medical industry are going to be leaning on you so much to help them deal with their own trauma from this – as is almost always the case, the psychiatric medical profession is going to be so crucial to combatting a second, invisisble epidemic of trauma, depression, etc. (and I pray not, but I would bet also suicide) when this initial emergency winds down.

      So even if it feels like people aren’t saying it enough, I hope you know that many of us are thinking it. And if it helps to hear it, I’ll say it right now – THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. My mother was a clinical social worker for her entire career and I know that you and your colleagues do so much more than just save our lives and our bodies, you save minds, and that is so important. So thank you.

      • Jensies says:

        Thank you so much. This is really meaningful.

        I totally get it, it’s not possible to name everyone and healthcare workers are dealing with truly horrific conditions right now. It’s just important to feel seen, even for a minute. You folks did that today and it’s appreciated.

  11. adastraperaspera says:

    My heart aches reading this, yet I’m gratified to see it. I think it’s sad that we haven’t had far more media focus on health care workers, first responders and also memorials of people who have passed. I know back in the 80s, it was the AIDS quilt that brought the personal stories home, so we could honor the people we lost and not forget them.

  12. Anony83 says:

    I generally think Men’s Health is a pretty sucky magazine in that it does to men what lots of women’s mags do to women re: setting impossible body standards BUT this is amazing. I have a chronic illness and spend a lot of time in the hospital – maintenance staff, environmental services, food services/food delivery, patient care techs, patient transport, radiologists, pharmacy staff, and everyone else who works in a hospital (especially in direct patient care but not necessarily) are CRITICAL parts of the hospital infrastructure.

    They help patients feel healthy, clean, safe, and they are frequently some of the kindest, most wonderful people you encounter while there. I’ve been lucky enough not to need a hospital admission during the pandemic and, fingers crossed, I won’t, but I know that every single one of those people – none of whom have MDs or RNs after their name – deserve all of the praise that we can possibly give them. They are working in impossible situations, putting their lives at risk, and showing up every day (in many places with insufficient PPE bc the most gear gets redirected to doctors and nurses) to keep patients safe, comfortable, and happy.

    When you talk about unsung heroes, they are at the top of my list. So I can’t tell you how much it means when I DO see people, the news, or … I guess even weight lifting magazines taking the time to honor them as well.