Somebody to Lean On

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Today marks the 74th day since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in the US. According to The New York Times, the patient, who had returned from Wuhan, China on January 15th, became symptomatic and was admitted to a hospital in Washington State on January 19th. His diagnosis was confirmed on January 22nd.

On March 26th, “The United States officially became the country hardest hit by the pandemic.” Since then, the US has reported “at least 324,000 cases and more than 9,000 deaths as of April 5th,” according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. New York is the state with the highest numbers: total confirmed cases rising to over 123,000, the number hospitalized over 17,000 and the number of deaths, 4,159 as of Sunday, April 5th.

We know that we must “Flatten the Curve.” This is the only way that hospitals and health care professionals will be able to provide care to those who require emergency evaluation, possible hospitalization, and admission to an ICU.  We know that for our part we must practice social distancing, wear a mask, not touch our face, and wash or sanitize our hands when we touch any surface that could be contaminated by the coronavirus.  

New Yorkers are doing their part and sheltering at home. The photograph above was taken on Friday, April 3rd on Madison Avenue in Manhattan at 4 p.m., ordinarily rush hour.

In her broadcast to the people of Great Britain last night, the Queen of England said, “I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any . . . We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again. We will meet again.”

When we come through this shared experience and begin to rebuild our economy, I hope we will remember all the people we leaned on.

I hope in the years to come, Americans will take pride in how we responded to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope we follow the rules and do our part. I hope this terrible and terrifying event will unite us and not divide us further. As we move past this epidemic, I hope we find common purpose as we learn from the mistakes of the recent past, rebuild our public health system and make preparations for future disasters that will come.

When we come through this shared experience and begin to rebuild our economy, I hope we will remember all the people we leaned on. I hope we will remember to provide a living wage for those who took risks yet continued to serve during the time of COVID-19: the men and women who loaded and drove the grocery trucks long distances, the US Postal workers, the FedEx workers, those who kept the grocery stores and pharmacies stocked and open, which allowed us to have food and supplies, the administrative and support staff at our medical institutions and all the members of the medical family. Finally, it will be time for those of us who were lucky enough to get through this period of suffering, to pay our good fortune forward. Let’s commit to a life of social justice for all who are sheltered here.

New Yorkers are finding ways to be together while staying apart. Here is a video taken on April 3rd by Grace Ali, the editor of, of neighbors who joined in singing “Lean On Me” by the late Bill Withers who passed away last week — a demonstration of community, optimism and faith.  

Stay safe, 

Dr. Pat


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  • lynn lehmkuhl April 6, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you Dr. Pat for being so present and so wise. You are a treasure.

  • Pamela Yew Schwartz April 6, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Thank you Dr. Pat for always being there not only take care of me physically, but also, always there to sustain us, protect us and inspire us. With profound gratitude.
    Please keep safe and well!

  • Barbara Chapman April 6, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Dr. Pat, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have been there for me for forty three years and counting.
    Literally, you have saved my life many times. All through the years I have been able to lean on you. You are my hero. I have no doubt that an amazing number of people feel exactly the same about you. I will be forever grateful.

    • Anne Gruppo April 6, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree!