Anesthesiologist, Winchester, Virginia
“We’re nestled in the Shenandoah Valley and apparently were somewhat protected from COVID at first. We have been learning ever since it hit New York. The information has been a tsunami daily, and yet we still just don’t know what’s going to happen. And that is so unbelievably stressful. … I get emails from the American Society of Anesthesiologists, from the CDC, from the FDA. … There is no literature on this, so it’s been a collaboration of physicians: ‘How did you take care of these patients? How did you cover for lack of PPE?’. … Our hospital was very proactive in turning to us to say, ‘Look, if we get a big surge, you’re going to be our go-to people to help us cover that ICU.’ It makes perfect sense. Anesthesiologists are the experts on intubation and extubation. If you’re looking to have the least amount of aerosolization, you want the most practiced, the most experienced person doing that. We’re also the intensivists of the ORs; we take care of everybody’s diabetes, high blood pressure. We hang pressors, we do lines, we do transfusions, we do codes, we do all of that. Osteopathically speaking, we take care of the whole person—that’s what anesthesiologists do. … Fifteen to 20 of us have volunteered to cover intensive care. We went up, four at a time, for a two-hour orientation. And then we’ve been going two at a time every day to orient, do rounds and try to write a note. Again, stressful. It was like being an intern again. … I can’t say enough about the people that were already taking care of those respiratory patients in the unit, their grace under fire. And I can’t get over my people, the anesthesiologists who have come up with so many different ways to tent, to intubate and extubate and cover themselves. … Back when there was not as much testing, I took care of the very first person under investigation that needed to go to the operating room. Most operating rooms are the wrong pressure. They are what’s called positive pressure: You want the infection to stay away from the patient, so you’re blowing it all down and away. But with a patient who’s infected, you’d be blowing it all over the room and giving it to everybody else. It becomes very involved. … We literally created our policy of how to handle it that day, a Saturday. My chairman came in, the safety officer came in—it took a village.”
As told to Janice Fisher
April 24, 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.