May 18, 2020

Stunning COVID Photo of Compassionate Nurse in Austin

Stunning COVID Photo of Compassionate Nurse in Austin

At Ascension Seton Hays Hospital in Austin, they have a policy that nobody dies alone. The nurse in the photo, Colby Hutson, posted this photo about his COVID patient on April 22nd. Throughout the pandemic, we have heard the phrase: “we are in this together.” But that’s something between an aspiration and a fantasy. Deeply divided by class, race, and politics, our society is more popularly characterized by distance. Coming together involves everything you see in the picture and the note. It’s the duty and the kindness, starting with the humility in the word “just.” ⠀

The note, alone, is heartbreaking, juxtaposed with the numbers and abbreviations above. But so is the glimpse of the bed through the glass. So are Colby’s lowered eyes wedged between those relentless lights. In equal measure, they seem to foreground the note, to mourn, and to apologize. So is the capital “L,” as if to stretch out the time. And as sad as the rest is the fact that the message was scrawled on a hand out about preparing to go home. If we are looking for guidance in “being together,” if we are mindful about our greater humanity, this picture will endure. (-Michael Shaw)⠀

Photo: Colby Hutson @ascensionseton. Originally tweeted by @statesman.⠀

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Michael Shaw
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