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Every Minute Is a Day

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The Bronx's Montefiore Medical Center serves an ethnically diverse community of the working poor in New York City. Between March and September 2020, 6,000 Covid-19 patients crossed its threshold. Nearly 1,000 of them died. Unfolding in terrifying real time, Every Minute Is a Day is emergency room doctor Robert Meyer's riveting diary of an unprecedented crisis.

Compared to AIDS and 9/11, the previous medical disasters of Meyer's 25-year career, Covid felt bewildering for how quickly the situation changed. High fever and dangerously low blood oxygen were the initial hallmarks of the illness, but new symptoms and potential therapies emerged all the time. Medical staff learned by doing. For instance, "proning" (turning people onto their stomachs) was found to forestall intubation in many cases.

As the morgue filled up, Meyer was distressed not just by patients dying apart from loved ones, but at the thought of seriously ill people avoiding hospital treatment for fear of infection. Relating bereavements from his past-his mother was killed by a drunk driver; his son's friend died of cancer-helps him set the pandemic in context. He also weaves in Montefiore's history and his colleagues' struggles. Covid turned personal when his mentor and the ER director's father both tested positive.

Compiled into a firsthand account by journalist Dan Koeppel, Meyer's cousin, and based on interviews as well as e-mails and texts they exchanged, this is hard-hitting nonfiction in the vein of Five Days at Memorial. Its re-creation of an atmosphere of daily panic and uncertainty makes it as absorbing as any thriller.
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Robert Meyer and Dan Koeppel have written an outstanding book about life in a NYC emergency room during the COVID pandemic. This was often a difficult book to read because the conditions described were so sad and scary however I think if more people took the time to educate themselves about what medical professionals and first responders dealt with (and nineteen months later are still dealing with) they would be more proactive about taking steps to end this pandemic. I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC. I highly recommend it.
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Not all COVID-books are for doctors.

Like many healthcare workers, I have often turned to narratives to cope with my work, and these have been plentiful during the (COVID) pandemic. But eventually one reaches a point where you can no longer look into the mirror of your daily life – and I have reached that limit much sooner than I expected. 

Every Minute Is A Day by Meyer (MD) and Koeppel is dedicated to the “many, many people [who] died alone, without their loved ones.” This is important: the express purpose of this book was “to honor and respect those this disease claimed.” 

I cringed when I first considered my rating for Every Minute Is A Day. I did not exactly love Meyer’s memoir, but I do not doubt that it will find its audience of ardent readers.

With the advent of COVID literature, I have often found myself drawing parallels with books written about World War II. For as long as I have been a reader, WWII has been a favourite topic of authors and readers. Why is it that the world so loves a good Auschwitz novel?

Reading Every Minute Is A Day gave me some insight into that phenomenon. While WWII took place long enough ago that most readers alive today did not experience it personally; it occurred recently enough that the effects on our lives remain tangible.

Conversely, the world is still living COVID, and throughout Every Minute I have not been able to clear the term “too soon” from my mind. Meyer writes how “the rules kept changing” – and they continue to do so. In some ways, Every Minute feels like a tribute written too soon. 

Does Meyer’s memoir achieve what it set out to do? I believe so. It may clear up much confusion for laypersons. I think it may provide peace when people think about their relatives, and how they could not be with them in their final moments. I hope that survivors will know not only that their healthcare workers cared, but how they cared. I hope they will know that the masks, the PPE, the difficulty communicating, were all as challenging for their doctors as for patients and relatives. That death weighed heavily on them, and that any perceived inadequacies were doubly perceived by healthcare workers themselves.

So much of the memoir should be relatable, but the authors actually detract from that by focussing largely on Montefiore – a hospital they are clearly, and rightfully, very proud of. But that singular focus leads to an atmosphere of “us, alone” – we alone were suffering. We alone were scrambling to make things work. That this is not the author’s intention is not the point – the impression that it creates, is.

What I miss most of all is growth, and hope. Every Minute depicts so well the despair. The confusion. The feelings of failure. But by the end of it all, I cannot see the growth I would have liked to see, and once more I venture that it comes down to timing. The author cannot depict that which is yet to come fully to fruition. Again, I do not think the time is right for THIS memoir. Soon, but not yet.
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Devastating account of the early days of covid from an ER Dr in the Bronx. If you want to know what it felt like to be there, prepare yourself.
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This book is interesting as it gives an insight to a very current problem - covid 19. It is told by a 20 year veteran who works in the Bronx in the emergency room. He has to deal with sick people every day, but nothing could prepare the staff for the massive influx of patients suffering from this virus. He tells it through the eyes of a caring doctor who is often the only other person that the patient sees as family are not allowed. 
Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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“People are dying because nobody knows what to do.”

This book’s content is breathtaking. From the perspective of compassionate and dedicated medical angels of NYC’s most overwhelmed hospital, Montefiore. Staff is blindsided by the fast-moving virus and caught unprepared for the massive number of sick and dying people walking into their ER. One statistic states that the hospital’s three admissions at the beginning of March grew to more than 1,000 by the end of the month. A must read!
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This was so hard to read that I was unable to finish it.  It wasn't the writing or the pacing, it was the subject.  Those with stronger hearts than I will find this a thoughtful, emotional, and important contribution I suspect will be valued more as there is more distance from that terrible summer.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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Read if you: Want a stark, moving, and harrrowing personal account of hospital medicine in the COVID-19 era. 

The COVID-19 books are here--mostly nonfiction now, but fiction is on the way. Like other major historical events, personal accounts are the first ones to publish, and the ones that seem to be the most popular with readers. Although this is not a long read, it's emotionally powerful and memorable long after you read it. 

Librarians/booksellers: Definitely purchase if nonfiction books about the coronavirus have been popular. 

Many thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review,
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This book was incredible and as soon as I started it, I couldn't put it down. Told from the standpoint of an ER doctor in the heart of the Covid surge in the Bronx, we get an insider's look at how the pandemic crisis unfolded in hospitals and the level of gut-wrenching devastation it has left in it's wake. As I read the book, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this book is non-fiction and happened within the last year. It literally reads like a dystopian, sci-fi novel. Meyer and Koeppel did an amazing job of injecting humanity into something that so many have worked hard to distance themselves from. I have already recommended this book to friends and family as there were too many parts for me to even share with them.
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There is bound to be a new genre of books about peoples' various experiences with Covid-19. This one is written by an emergency medicine doctor at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx borough of NYC, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the entire country.

Both factual documentation of the first 6 months of the pandemic (the book was completed in November 2020) and personal experience of treating and sometimes losing people very close to the doctor, it's sobering insight into the lives of the personnel caring for the sickest Covid patients at a time when nobody knew what this virus was all about.
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