Lockdown Friday… From My Outpatient Clinic

The text alerts started before midnight. I subscribe to our medical school’s urgent alert system, if only to have an early warning that we’re likely to have a slow snow day in the office.

But at 11:30 last night, I awoke bleary-eyed to my phone beeping, and read:

“ALERT: Shooting with inuuries near MIT campus… Suspects at large…Stay out of area…”

I shrugged it off and went back to sleep. But then more alerts came, at almost 1 a.m.: “ALERT: MIT Shooter situation remains active. Stay out of area.”

Then more, and more.

2 a.m.: “Shootings reported in Watertown. Stay out of area.”
4:45 a.m.: “…Police searching for armed and dangerous suspect… Stay out of area…”

And so on, with additional alerts all early morning telling us that the medical school is closed and to stay out of the area of the shootings and manhunt.

A little after 5 a.m. Hubby called. He’s on the road and so, so worried.

I put on the news. It’s like an action movie: the replay of the shootouts, the reports of dead and wounded, the ongoing manhunt for an armed and dangerous terrorist.

Nana came at 6 a.m. to take over the kids. I figured, hey, I’m a doctor. I had no indication that my office would close, and there were patients to see, so I decided to drive in to work. After all, my hospital and office aren’t that close to where the shootings were, and to where the manhunt was centered.

I also kind of assumed that they would catch this guy sooner than later, and the workaday rythyms would resume…

So I drove in with my brother, who, as coincidence would have it, is also a physician here, and who lives down the street. Traffic was as thick as usual, and though there were security personnel at my parking garage, the garage was about as full as usual.

However, the walk to the hospital was kind of eerie. Usually there are streams of people pouring out from the MBTA and the commuter rail
stations to go to work at the hospital and business complex. But today, all the trains are shut down, and there was little foot traffic.

Here in the office, on a usually busy Friday morning, we had two docs, on N.P., one nurse, one medical assistant and our assistant office manager. This is a skeleton crew for us. AND a few patients actually showed up. We saw a handful of patients… Until the city went on lockdown.

Now, people are being asked to stay put as much as possible, not to come into the city or leave.

Throughout this whole thing, the hospital has been good about delivering updates, and the latest:

“Ambulatory staff who are currently at the hospital are requested to remain on site.”

With all public transportation service suspended indefinitely, we have staff that were in the hospital overnight who have not been able to leave. They have continued on, mostly on the floors and in the E.R., working until replacements could trickle in somehow.

So here I am waiting to hear if I am needed anywhere. Seems that not many patients are coming in today, for many reasons… So I sit and await notice, catching up on paperwork, and watching the news.

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