Pandemic puzzles, parenting, and Poe

This issue covers COVID-19 strategies, care before and after the ICU, and apologies for care breakdowns.

It's been six months since COVID-19 first graced this magazine's cover. Like everyone else, I really wish we didn't have reason for it still to be there. But at least this month's main story is about successes. Hospitalists who spoke as part of the Society of Hospital Medicine's HM20 Virtual shared the innovations their teams and facilities developed to respond to a variety of problems posed by the pandemic, from contact tracing to discharge planning.

If only there were innovations to make parenting easy and efficient, right? In additional coverage from the conference, two speakers offer their thoughts on the challenges of being both a parent and hospitalist, in general and particularly during a pandemic. There aren't easy solutions for all of the issues, but at least you'll know you're not alone.

Speaking of lonely challenges, recovering from an ICU stay can be one of them. An article addresses what can be done to help patients who have received critical care, for COVID-19 or another illness, regain as much health and function as possible, both when they're transferred from the ICU to the ward and after they're discharged. (A related article focuses on the problem of pre-ICU care, including backups and boarding.) Our other feature article this month is also patient-centered. It explains how acknowledging breakdowns in inpatient care and apologizing, even for those that aren't your fault, can improve patient-physician relations and satisfaction.

Finally, we've got two very timely pieces. Newman's Notions goes spooky for Halloween, with a riff on an Edgar Allan Poe story. And in our Perspectives section, a hospitalist gives her advice (and some more official guidance) on how to respond when patients want to talk about politics. You should always feel free to talk about anything with us, by emailing

Stacey Butterfield