Chief Physician, Delaware Division of Public Health, Dover, Delaware
“An emergency physician by training, I find that emergency medicine is at the nexus of public health and patient care. My job with the state Division of Public Health, which I started in late February, is an evolution of my work. … We had our first COVID-19 case in mid-March. Never in my life did I think I’d be on midnight phone calls about testing with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. … I also do per diem ER work in North Jersey and the Philadelphia area. We took lessons from the harder-hit areas, and it gave us a head start about what to expect. We looked at the clinical course of patients, and saw that in New York and New Jersey, there was ruthlessly efficient transmission of the coronavirus at the long-term care facilities. We made sure we had infrastructure in place to get patients the care they needed, when they needed it, where they needed it. … My days are varied. Today I was at a new testing site in south Delaware; we were working out the kinks at a drive-thru facility that got 600 tested in less than four hours. Other days I’ll be out at industrial sites, at pop-up care sites in at-risk communities, running viral tests with my notebook in hand. … At the State Health Operations Center, my clinical background helps mobilize science into the community through developing guidance for transmission precautions, testing and biosafety guidelines and protocols. … During the early phase of the pandemic we did everything we could to protect as many people as possible. Now that we have the lasso on the bull, we look to suppress the virus through more widespread testing and contact tracing—mitigation strategies. We have selected a vendor to assist in the hiring of more than 200 contact tracers to identify and reach out to those people the patient had close contact with—within 48 hours of their diagnosis. … As we move into summer, we purchased 200,000 oral patient-administered tests—they rub the swab into their mouths, and you get results in 48 hours. We’re targeting 80,000 tests a month. … In mid-May, we’re staring down the barrel of Memorial Day weekend. Our beaches will open in the next few days for limited activity, where social distancing can be maintained. Out-of-state visitors have to quarantine for two weeks to control cross-pollination. You can come to your cottage, but you have to stay inside.”
As told to David McKay Wilson
May 13, 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.