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Hot Spot: A Doctor’s Diary from the Pandemic

September 16, 2022

Dr. Alex Jahangir knew how to fix bones, not society’s social ills. Hot Spot is his unlikely story of learning to lead during COVID – and leaving no one behind.

Pandemic memoir by Iranian immigrant who became Nashville’s native son has been nominated for PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award; to be featured at Southern Festival of Books.

When Nashville identified its first case of coronavirus in March 2020, the city was as unprepared as the rest of the world for what was to come. Dr. Alex Jahangir, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon who was also chair of the Metro Nashville Board of Health, unexpectedly found himself head of the city’s Coronavirus Task Force – responsible for leading it through uncharted waters as ethnic, racial, and cultural tensions constantly threatened to derail what should have been a collective effort to keep his fellow residents healthy and safe.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew what I wasn’t going to do: be one more leader who left poor and minority communities behind in the midst of a major crisis,” says Jahangir. “I looked for mentors across the city who had been forged by adversity. Soon, it dawned on me that most of these leaders were African American. I realized their capacity to endure and triumph in the face of daunting odds may hold the key to surviving all our pandemics and crises still to come.”

Dr. Alex Jahangir, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, is Vice-Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medicine, and Health Policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He served as head of the Metro Nashville Coronavirus Task Force for the entire two years of the Task Force’s existence.

His new book, Hot Spot: A Doctor’s Diary from the Pandemic (Vanderbilt University Press, September 15, 2022), tells the story of his first year leading one city’s COVID Task Force – an experience as unique as Nashville’s Christmas Day bombing, and as universal as hospitals overflowing with the dying. Still, Jahangir managed to stay the course by approaching every encounter with local, state and national leaders as an opportunity to learn – both what to do and what not to do. In the process, he learned a lot about himself. Derived from the daily notes he recorded during the first year of COVID-19, Hot Spot is his account of how the pandemic almost ripped one city apart, and why he believes Nashville – and America – can emerge stronger and wiser because of all we have endured.

Hot Spot has been nominated for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction and will be featured at one of the nation’s oldest literary festivals, the 34th annual Southern Festival of Books. The book is available now for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Parnassus Books and Goodreads.

“I will only assert that my friend Alex Jahangir’s pandemic memoir is a touchstone for anyone who led through or lived through the pandemic. More crucially, his account gives us a template for leadership when there is none to be had.”
—Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, President & CEO of HBCU Meharry Medical College, Member of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, and one of America’s foremost infectious disease experts.

Hot Spot lays out the backdrop and prescription of how we can be better prepared for the next big natural disaster or health challenge. A must read for those who will lead.”
—Senator Bill Frist, MD, Former Majority Leader of the US Senate.