A Special Tribute

“You Are Awesome”: A Poem from Jeff Cooper, PhD, to Frontline Workers during COVID-19

Since COVID-19 hit us, our department’s Quality and Safety team has had a Zoom meeting every day, looking for ways to support what our anesthesia providers and support staff are doing. We’ve been hearing what’s happening at the front lines of care, the incredible challenges anesthesia providers have been facing and what you’ve all been doing. The team wanted to honor all the clinicians who have risen to this occasion. After one of our team meetings, I woke up at 2 AM inspired by how much, so many owe to all of you. When I wrote this, I had in mind those who have been caring for patients, but as our team considered more what has happened, we realized there are many more, including all the staff who support those providing direct care, to whom this equally applies. And, after I presented it, I further realized that this equally applies to anesthesia providers and support staff everywhere that COVID-19 as hit.

You Are Awesome

A tribute to all who work in the
Massachusetts General Hospital
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine

In normal times,
which yes there were,
and may never be again,

You worked your magic,
caring for those who came
in need of your healing touch

Just for a few moments
known to them,
yet their life is in your hands

As it surely would,
the stealth killer came
unexpectedly (for most)

Spreading on the wind
from the air we breathe
into the moist flesh

The vulnerable
could not stop
the mass replication

Which ravaged the lungs
the heart
the vessels


They came to you
helpless to fight
against the relentless beast

And, you
also unprepared
also afraid

did not turn away.
Instead, stood firm
for those who needed you

You took care of them
even when
you didn’t know how.

Redeploy they said.
There is no one else.
You put yourself in harm’s way.

The human form
in front of you
fighting for life

Against some RNA
without a soul
and you with so few weapons

You medicated
sometimes not sure how.

The rules changed
every day
every hour

You adapted.
You persevered.
Defeated your fear

Gave the best of care
not enough for some
but for others, survival

Where did it come from in you?
The passion to serve
those you don’t even know

Even you may not know
may not question
it is so deeply felt

We who watched
from a distance
in awe

of your competence
your energy
your courage

and for those you saved
and those you did not,
forever grateful


Jeff Cooper
June 4, 2020