man in PPE

James Rathmell, MD

One day last spring, during the height of the first surge, I was in my office when I suddenly heard someone rummaging around in the supply closet down the hall. In normal times, I wouldn’t have noticed, as our floor is usually buzzing with activity. But these were not normal times. Most of the people I’d typically see had been working remotely for weeks, and non-clinical spaces like mine were looking desolate. Every little sound outside my door was a sign of life, so, craving human interaction, I eagerly put on my mask and went to see who was out there.

I was very surprised to find Dr. Jim Rathmell, our chair of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, frantically looking through the shelves of the supply closet. When I asked if I could help, he held out a handful of rubber bands and said he needed more.

There was an intensity and determination in his eyes that I wasn’t expecting — at least not over office supplies. But the reason for that soon became clear. When I asked why he needed them so urgently, Dr. Rathmell explained how the Brigham had received a shipment of masks that were unusable because the ear loops were defective. He was confident that they could be modified to be effective, if only he could find more rubber bands.

Our mask supply had been running low for weeks, with certain masks becoming scarce, and it was obvious that he desperately wanted to do whatever he could to keep his team safe. His earnestness took my breath away, and I walked back to my office with tears in my eyes thinking about how lucky I am to work alongside people who care so very much.

Erin McDonough, MBA
Senior Vice President, Chief Communication Officer