In this Story from the Front Line, Dr. Teda Arunrut tells us about the inspirational Dr. Wakim.
Every morning, I go to work earlier than usual to disinfect my work area and huddle with my team. We discuss how to best to care for our children and families safely in light of the latest guidelines for the day. While feelings of anxiety and uncertainty often linger in me, my fellow pediatrician and immunology specialist Dr. Mary Wakim never ceases to be a source of inspiration. A pediatrician, humanist and scientist, Dr. Wakim comes ready to tackle the day with gusto. While she is aware of the risks that healthcare workers face, Dr. Wakim’s compassion never waivers. She views each patient encounter as the chance to heal, to treat the body as well as the mind and spirit. Dr. Wakim provides guidance to families on how best to cope with the stresses of sheltering. Every interaction remains personalized. Dr. Wakim celebrates patients’ small and large victories and sprinkles in humor along the way. In the 1980s, when the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency disease) pandemic spread throughout the world, she was also at the front line, caring for patients in Florida who were dealing with the ravages of AIDS. There was no cure at the time and death was a common reality, but she knew, as she does now, that in time, things would get better.