Park City doctor’s essays look at medicine in ‘After the Pandemic’ book
Throughout the past four months of dealing with the novel coronavirus, many people have wondered how the disease will reshape American society down the road.
Publisher Lawrence Knorr decided to tap authors who are associated with his company, Sunbury Press, to take a shot at the topic based on their own experiences in their fields of expertise.
The result is a volume of essays collectively titled “After the Pandemic: Visions of Life Post COVID-19.” The list of authors include Knorr; Pat LaMarche, the 2004 vice presidential candidate for the Green Party; and physician Scott Zuckerman, a Park City-based medical acupuncturist who won first place in the Utah Arts & Museums’ 2015 Utah Original Writing Competition.
“I was quite honored to have two chapters in this volume, and each of them is about how the pandemic would affect some aspect in the world of medicine moving forward,” Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman, who published “Dreams of My Comrades,” a biography of World War II veteran Murray Jacobs in 2017, is the only writer to have two essays in “After the Pandemic.”
His chapters are titled “Public Health, Civil Liberties, and Life After the Pandemic” and “Medicine in the Post-Coronapocalypse Era.” In the first essay, Zuckerman said he posed more questions than gave answers.
“I compared what was happening now to certain other intersections we have experienced between the need for public health and the need to preserve civil liberties,” he said.
At the time Zuckerman wrote the essay in early April, there weren’t many protests regarding the shutdowns of schools, businesses and houses of worship, so he used examples of mandatory vaccinations for children.
“Of course, now, nearly three months later, we’re actually seeing protests of something more mundane — the simple act of wearing a face mask in public,” he said. “I have always felt civil liberties end when the lives of others are endangered, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be judgmental when I wrote the essay, and it was all I could do to whittle it down to an appropriate word count to be included in this volume.”
Zuckerman took a more narrow-minded view while writing the second essay, which deals mainly with how the pandemic will affect the practitioner/patient relationship.
“I’m an old-fashioned doctor, and while I’m not especially old, I still remember having warm and close relationships with the families I took care of and the patients themselves,” he said.
Since he started practicing medicine in 1988, Zuckerman has seen a gradual disconnect between doctors and patients due to insurance-company policies and the advent of electronic medical records that can be accessed and viewed remotely.
“With the situation we’re in now, we are also moving to telemedicine and telehealth visits where the doctor looks at patients through a computer screen,” Zuckerman said. “For me, that whittles the relationship down to its smallest possible limits to what it once was.”
While he recognizes there are positives to the technological element, he can see a deterioration of the human connection.
“So for this essay, I took a narrow-minded view,” he said. “Since I currently practice acupuncture, now, I spend a lot of face-to-face time with my patients, because, obviously, you can’t do what I do via telemedicine. And have close relationships with all my patients.”
Zuckerman wrote both essays easily, and the one about doctor/patient relationships didn’t change much from thought to page.
“I think it was because it was about these feelings that I’ve had for some time,” he said.
The essay about civil liberties, on the other hand, did evolve.
“First of all, I had a long dialogue with the publisher to make sure it wasn’t too politically charged,” Zuckerman said. “We wanted to reach as broad an audience without alienating readers, and I also recognized that I had a responsibility to not further the extreme political divide we are now facing in our country.”
April 15 was the deadline Knorr set, and by April 30 all 27 essays were reviewed, proofed and edited.
Of the 400 authors who have written Sunbury Press books, 40 expressed interest in being part of the project and 25 authors’ pieces were accepted, according to Zuckerman.
“I think most of the other chapters are more optimistic than mine, which readers might find that refreshing, but I’m proud of the book and honored to be included,” he said.
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In the closing scenes of the about-to-be released documentary “Public Trust,” environmental journalist Hal Herring says this of the battle over public lands: “You only have a right to what you are willing to fight for.”