General Surgery Preliminary Intern, Newark Beth Israel, New Jersey
“Our entire hospital is now a COVID-19 unit. It happened so fast. Overnight. … I’m in a 14-bed ICU managed by the surgery team. We have PACU and same-day surgery nurses, none of whom are trained in ICU levels of care, all of whom are unbelievable. The team consists of an anesthesiologist running the ICU, me, one resident, an intern who is going into radiology, ortho PAs, neurosurgery PAs and nurse anesthetists. … Tensions could be so high, and people could snap. But I have not experienced a second of negative energy. It’s nothing but positive, optimistic teamwork, and it makes it all worth it. … I’m so grateful that I had a month of ICU. The ICU team at my hospital has done a great job in training us and getting us ready for this. … I’m getting the sickest patients in the hospital, and I try to FaceTime with their families every day. … I lost seven patients in the last five days. These patients will go directly from us down to the morgue. We have to talk to their families to see where they want their remains to go. … I stand with my patients as they are dying, and I hold their hand and say, ‘You are not alone. I’m with you. We are here with you. Your daughter loves you so much, your son loves you so much.’ And I just repeat it over and over until they pass, so that when I call their family members, I can tell them I did that much. … I feel like I’m at war. When I’m home, I can’t get that vision out of my head—of standing in the middle of the unit. I’m having a hard time sleeping. But I have such a wonderful support system: my program director, the chair of my department, the head of nursing. The president and CEO of our hospital has organized the Newark Police and Fire Departments to assemble outside our hospital with all the cop cars and fire trucks and salute us and tell us how much they appreciate us as healthcare workers on the front line. … I do believe PCOM prepared me for this moment. Sometimes I took courses that made me think, ‘We’ll never need this. Why are we doing this?’ I am ready and able to handle this time of pandemic emotionally. I feel very, very blessed. … I’m going to be a very well rounded radiologist (my ultimate goal), that’s for sure. Lord willing.”
As told to Janice Fisher
April 16, 2020
Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.