In Memoriam: Frank Gabrin, DO

April 3, 2020
H. Steven Moffic, MD

Dr Gabrin said not to forget about the most powerful drugs we have in the pandemic-tolerance, kindness, empathy, compassion, and patience.

CORONAVIRUS CHRONICLES

“I read the news today, oh boy . . .” -The Beatles, A Day in the Life

This news item was inevitable, but dreaded. Regular readers may notice that I write periodic eulogies of psychiatrists and others important to mental health, such as Robin Williams and Oliver Sacks, MD. On Wednesday, the news came that the front-line emergency physician Dr Gabrin died from symptoms consistent with coronavirus.

On his Campbellian heroic journey, he had survived cancer, twice. He had survived almost being beaten to death by a psychiatric patient. He had not only survived burnout but wrote one of the earliest books about it back in 2013. It was, titled Back From Burnout. Tragically, he could not bounce back from this virus.

He reportedly had to use the same face mask and gloves for a week because of supply shortage at his hospital in Queens, New York, until his symptoms sent him home. He was never tested for the virus. Dr Gabrin is reported to have said in his last Facebook post not to foget about the most powerful drugs we have in the pandemic-tolerance, kindness, empathy, compassion, and patience.

Clearly, they are essential and necessary, but not sufficient. We also need adequate safety supplies. If we are blocked in this ultimate way from healing patients during the pandemic, the epidemic rate of burnout-and worse-will only rise. Is not the way to collectively mourn for and honor Dr Gabrin apparent?