Deafening silence

Danielle Ofri remembers Bellevue on September 11, 2001.

The overnight staff remained in the hospital along with the day staff. Busloads of doctors from hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens arrived at Bellevue. Off-duty doctors and nurses showed up of their own accord. “I didn’t know what else to do,” I overhead one pediatrician saying, “so I came here.” Even the retired chairman of medicine, Dr. Saul Farber, hobbled in to the hospital with his cane.

The ER was packed, six doctors deep wherever you looked. The clinic was overflowing with medical reinforcements and equipment. Everyone was geared up, eyeing the ambulance bays nervously.

And then … no one came. A spooky calm flooded the hospital. Thousands of medical workers — doctors, nurses, medical students, technicians, orderlies, therapists, clerical workers — were poised at the ready, but there were no patients. Mostly we stood around, nervously fingering stethoscopes and lab coats. Nobody could tend to their regular work — that felt unseemly.

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