Reviews | Health workers, “risking their own lives to save ours”

For the publisher:

Re “Giving a risk premium to healthcare workers”, by Sandeep Jauhar (Opinion guest dissertation, January 10):

As a fellow doctor at Northwell, I appreciate Dr Jauhar’s feeling about the risk premium for hospital work since Covid-19 drastically changed the medical landscape. A bonus would surely be a confirmation of the public recognition of the sacrifices we have made and continue to make in the riskier environment in which we now work.

But, in truth, since we are all vaccinated (Northwell easily followed New York State guidelines for healthcare workers), there is certainly less personal risk than in the terrifying first months of the pandemic, when many doctors, nurses, paramedics and other selfless healthcare workers fell ill and often died.

Today the extra risk premium is more of a demand from the public that we work so hard to take care of to notice us and appreciate what we continue to do every day. The serenade and public displays of gratitude to healthcare workers at the start were a bit over the top… but we miss the feeling.

What I would prefer over the risk premium would be for each of our patients to be vaccinated and vaccinated, as we constantly ask. This would be what would make me happy. This would be the ultimate gesture of appreciation to all who work hard to help sick patients – and the community’s way of saying “we care about you”.

Jessica jacob
Big Neck, NY

For the publisher:

As someone who has unfortunately been hospitalized four times in the past six months, I completely agree with the premise of this trial. While most healthcare workers choose their careers for reasons other than money, many are significantly underpaid for the very difficult and dangerous work they do.

Conversation of opinion
Questions around the Covid-19 vaccine and its deployment.

I was a surgical patient in Rhode Island for kidney stone removal and hernia repair, and in New York City for total knee replacement. In both hospitals, the care I received from the surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, orderlies, food service workers and everyone else was amazing. Everyone I came in contact with was professional and compassionate, and seemed to consider me their most important patient.

While I doubt that healthcare workers would provide or could provide a higher standard of care if they were paid more, I am convinced that paying them more would go a long way in making these essential workers feel more valued and respected. .

We have spent billions trying to test, treat and cure people infected with Covid-19. Let’s tell our healthcare workers that we understand the life and death work they do, including risking their own lives to save ours.

Henry A. Lowenstein
New York

For the publisher:

Risk pay for caregivers, technicians, respiratory therapists and nurses (as well as teachers, home health aides and all other underpaid and at risk workers)? Absoutely!

Risk premium for doctors? I am sorry. No.

As a physician myself, I can attest that physicians in the United States are already paid at rates far higher than their colleagues in other countries. US Doctors Struggling With Covid Need A Lot; more salary is not one of them.

Wesley H. Clark
Middlebury, Vermont

For the publisher:

Re “Despite the gains, space heaters pose a fire risk” (press article, January 11):

Regarding the Bronx fire and radiators: For over 44 years that I’ve lived in our apartment in New York, management has continuously reduced the fuel oil to heat the building. When my daughter was little there were times when we had to put her to bed in a snowsuit. In recent winters, some tenants in the building have purchased radiators to warm up against inadequate heating.

Is management’s greed to pay for oil worth the risk of a building fire?

Margot Head
New York

For the publisher:

Re “Parents, it’s going to be a very long month of January” (Opinion,, January 8):

Jessica Grose perfectly portrays the challenges of entertaining young children when options are scarce, and screens masquerade as virtual babysitters.

During the Christmas holidays, my wife and I knock out 45 minutes each night, along with our three young children, driving and looking at the Christmas lights. Now, with the holidays over but the same hours to fill, we might have to settle for streetlights. And if that fails to hold their interest, we will pray for clear skies and resort to “chasing the moon”.

Andrew Ginsburg
Southport, Connecticut.

For the publisher:

Re “I took ketamine for my depression. Things Got Pretty Weird ”(Opinion guest essay, December 28):

Vanessa Barbara’s description of her experience illustrates the complicated nature of ketamine treatment. People take it for relief, but it’s not just another antidepressant. Its neurochemical effects are complicated, and although there are mood-uplifting effects for many, these effects are often not sustained.

It remains to be feared that the temporary elevation in mood could, for some, fuel an addictive dynamic. Alternatively, the dissociative and hallucinogenic effects may be critical for the effectiveness of the drug. Some people can benefit greatly from the altered state of consciousness and the change in perspective they experience, perhaps in combination with psychotherapy.

Or, for those who haven’t tried it, it might be worth exploring ketamine-free psychotherapy. Drugs can be inspirational, but they’re not the only way to have a transformative experience.

Elizabeth weinberg
Arlington, Mass.
The writer is a psychiatrist.

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