PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
PCOM HEROES OF THE FRONT LINES
VOL. 81, NO. 2, USPS, 413-060 Digest Magazine is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications under the direction of Wendy W. Romano, chief marketing and communications officer. EDITOR Jennifer Schaffer Leone, MA PUBLICATION DESIGN Abigail Harmon CONTRIBUTORS – FEATURES Janice Fisher Jennifer Schaffer Leone, MA David McKay Wilson CONTRIBUTORS – UPDATES Daniel McCunney Orla Moloney Barbara Myers Jordan Roberts CONTRIBUTORS – CLASS NOTES Institutional Advancement Staff Meghan McCall PHOTOGRAPHY Daniel Shippey Photography Bruce Fairfield Melissa Kelly Photography Feature photos courtesy of alumni, unless noted otherwise SEND QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ABOUT DIGEST MAGAZINE TO: Marketing and Communications, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 4180 City Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131-1695 215-871-6300 email@example.com SEND INFORMATION FOR CLASS NOTES AND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: Institutional Advancement, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 4180 City Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131-1695 215-871-6120 firstname.lastname@example.org Periodical postage is paid at Upper Darby, PA, and at additional mailing offices.
Dear Alumni and Friends: Social distancing does not mean social isolation. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for separation, quarantine and isolation, we at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine have been focused on staying connected. We have sustained integrity, rigor and continuity in learning—transitioning doctoral and graduate program courses, clinical clerkships and experiential learning to online teaching modalities. We have shifted the medical practice at our PCOM Healthcare Centers to a telehealth model so we could continue to serve vulnerable populations. We have donated PPE and other supplies to support health professionals in Philadelphia and Georgia. Our students, faculty and staff have been engaged in philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy in myriad ways. And many of our alumni have fought valiantly on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, preserving health and life, at times heroically.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the College or the editor.
Our connectedness has allowed us to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic— to emerge as more creative, collaborative, altruistic people. I invite you to read about who we, as a PCOM community, have been during this unprecedented time.
Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81 President and Chief Executive Officer
© 2020 Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. All rights reserved. 2
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
C O NT E N TS 2 Updates 10 Institutional Heritage:
Celebrating a Golden Jubilee, Marking a Retirement
12 Feature: PCOM Heroes of the Front Lines
38 Feature: Exams May Be
Cancelled, But Humanity Is Not: A Medical Student Perspective on the COVID-19 Pandemic
40 Class Notes 44 Obituaries: Lost on the Front Lines
ACCREDITATION WITH EXCEPTIONAL OUTCOME
At its April meeting, the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) granted PCOM the status of Accreditation with Exceptional Outcome, the highest level of accreditation granted by the COCA. This accreditation status will be effective for ten years. As a newly established location, PCOM South Georgia was also reviewed in separate action by the COCA, which determined that all standards of accreditation had been met. “We are honored to receive the exceptional outcome designation. We thank the numerous members of the College community who contributed to this tremendous effort. The successful outcome speaks volumes about our institution and the high-quality education we provide to our students,” said Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer.
NEW DEANS NAMED H. William Craver, III, DO ’87, FACOS, was recently named dean and chief academic officer of PCOM South Georgia. He previously served as dean and chief academic officer of PCOM Georgia for over nine years and was instrumental in the conception and development of PCOM South Georgia. Joseph M. Kaczmarczyk, DO, MPH, MBA, FACOOG (Dist.), assumed the role of interim dean at PCOM Georgia in March. In 2010, after a 23-year career in the US Public Health Service, he retired at the rank of captain and joined PCOM as vice chair and professor, residency program director, and clerkship director in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Subsequently, he was promoted to assistant dean of clinical education, associate dean of clinical education, and associate dean of undergraduate medical education, before accepting the interim dean role at PCOM Georgia.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
RESIDENCIES RECEIVE ACGME ACCREDITATION
NEW CHIEF ADMISSIONS OFFICER NAMED Adrianne Jones, MLS, was named the College’s chief admissions officer, effective April 27. In this role, she will manage the development and implementation of a comprehensive recruitment plan to meet the enrollment goals of the osteopathic medical program as well as all current and future graduate programs for all three College locations.
PCOM’s ophthalmology, transitional year and orthopedic surgery residencies have been granted initial accreditation status by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). “With this news, we are proud to now have all 12 of our programs in the ACGME system and complete the rigorous process to accreditation,” said David Kuo, DO ’96, associate dean for graduate medical education. “This outcome speaks to the strength of our programs and sends the message that PCOM students are as talented and well-prepared as they come.”
Ms. Jones brings more than 25 years’ experience in higher education, specifically in the admissions and student counseling fields. Most recently, she served as director of admissions at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in St. Augustine, Florida. “Ms. Jones’s experience in the health education field and her proven ability to improve admissions processes to ensure the best possible candidates are admitted to PCOM make her the ideal fit to lead our Office of Admissions,” said Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer.
MEETING AT THE INTERSECTION OF ART AND SCIENCE Students from PCOM and St. Joseph’s University partnered this spring in a unique medical humanities pilot program blending art and science. Fourth-year PCOM students shared their expertise on the movements and manipulations of human anatomy, while St. Joe’s drawing students showed how to best represent those movements on paper. The program was introduced by Ruth Conboy, counselor, Student Affairs, PCOM; PCOM anatomy faculty; and Steven Cope, MFA, assistant professor, drawing and painting, St. Joseph’s University.
VIRTUAL MATCHES On March 20, fourth-year students in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program celebrated the news of their Match. In the wake of COVID-19 and strict social distancing restrictions, students took their celebrations online, sharing news of their successes on social media via the hashtag #PCOMmatch. This year marked the first time osteopathic medicine students matched alongside their allopathic peers in the 2020 National Resident Matching Program Match. At the College, the DO Class of 2020 saw strong match rates: 99.5 percent for PCOM and 97.6 percent for PCOM Georgia (as of June 4). PCOM and PCOM Georgia students were among the 90.7 percent of DO students nationwide who matched into residency programs in 38 specialties, according to the American Osteopathic Association. Fifth-year students in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology and Doctor of School Psychology programs also participated in their Match. One-hundred percent of psychology student participants matched in the two-phase APPIC Internship Match. And ten Doctor of Pharmacy program students matched into residency programs during phase one of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists Match process.
A BOLD MOVE TO ONLINE LEARNING
Faculty and staff across all PCOM campuses provided encouraging words and positivity to students through a virtual “Encouragement Campaign.” Through this social media campaign, a video was compiled that showcased the support from the campus community during this unprecedented time.
On March 16, the College made the move to online learning in order to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. Across three College locations—in conjunction with the Department of Professional Development and Online Learning—faculty and staff worked collaboratively to transfer doctoral and graduate program courses to online instruction. In a little under two weeks, 200 faculty from 25 distinct academic programs transitioned over 300 face-to-face spring courses online. The Department of Professional Development and Online Learning imparted their experiences with virtual learning in a 10-part CME webinar series, “Strategies to Bring Clinical Education to Online Environments.” The series urged educators and preceptors in clinical education to share creative solutions to problems they have solved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
TAKING A STAND: WHITE COATS FOR BLACK LIVES On June 5, PCOM students—and thousands of other healthcare professionals and medical students across the country—stood together in solidarity with the African American community and all who have been affected by racism and injustice. They paused for eight minutes and 46 seconds in remembrance of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others whose senseless deaths have left our communities reeling and enraged. And they recognized that racism is a critical public health concern. #WhiteCoats4BlackLives
Photo courtesy of Jesse Uduma (DO ’23)
FIRST ONLINE COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES
On May 19 and May 21, PCOM and PCOM Georgia graduated 251 and 128 DOs, respectively, in the College’s 129th Commencement. The ceremonies were held for the first time as online events, simulcast on the College’s YouTube and Facebook pages, in the midst of a historic public health crisis. “The job will require flexibility, adaptability, and creativity—meaningful new ideas, approaches, and discoveries,” said Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer, in his address to the graduates. “It will be your forward-thinking leadership that will restore our nation to health. Your dedicated labor will carry us through our time of crisis. And your dream to heal will ensure that our healthcare system, post-pandemic, delivers on the unmet health and wellness needs of our society as a whole.”
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
IN RESPONSE: WEBINARS AND VIRTUAL DISCUSSIONS PROVIDE GUIDANCE DURING COVID-19
EMERGENCY GRANT FUNDING FOR STUDENTS PCOM has recently awarded emergency grant funding to those students who have incurred expenses related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding was provided through the PCOM Student Emergency Fund, established by generous donations from the PCOM Alumni Association, alumni, faculty, staﬀ and other friends. In addition, the federal government has provided significant funding through the CARES Act.
To help the College community embrace a “new normal,” PCOM’s School of Professional and Applied Psychology developed online webinars focused on managing and improving mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. PCOM’s Office of Human Resources helped to facilitate and share the interactive offerings: “Managing Stress During COVID-19,” “Mindful Meditation and Grounding,” “How to Build Resilience and a Happy, Productive Life in the Time of COVID-19,” “Maximizing Quality of Life During Shelter-in-Place,” “Coping with the ‘New Normal’,” “Psychological and Emotional Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness,” “Helping Children Cope During the Pandemic,” and “Managing Conflict at Home During COVID-19 Quarantine.”
STUDENT EMERGENCY FUND
The Office of Diversity and Community Partnerships and the Office of Human Resources hosted virtual discussions about topics including “Parenting While Working from Home” and “Navigating Working from Home as a Caregiver.” They also considered the complexities of COVID-19 and its impact on marginalized communities through discussions on “The Vulnerability of Rural Communities” and “Challenges for the Muslim Community.” And in June, they held two very special gatherings, “A Call for Strength,” bringing students as well as the larger College community together in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd.
LENDING A HAND: COLLEGE DONATES PPE In March, when College leadership and staff learned of the dire need for personal protective equipment in their communities as a result of COVID-19, they gathered surgical gowns, gloves, shoe covers, N95 masks, eye protection, face shields, surgical caps, hand sanitizer, wipes, sterile tubes and pipettes, and viral transport medium. These items were donated to hospitals and healthcare workers in the greater Philadelphia, Atlanta and Moultrie regions. In addition, a Class II biosafety cabinet with the capability of safely decontaminating bacteria and viruses using UV waves was loaned from PCOM Georgia’s research laboratories to a local hospital for help in cleaning N95 respirators between patient uses. “Since students were temporarily unable to don PPE in preparation for hands-on learning, we felt it was vitally important to get these resources to the people who would need them most, the health systems in our communities that are facing this pandemic head-on,” said Patrick Wolf, MBA, chief occupational and environmental safety officer. DIGEST 2020
STUDENTS RAISE FUNDS, MAKE MASKS, DELIVER GROCERIES, THANK HEALTHCARE WORKERS Students pursuing degrees in the health professions often feel a calling to care for others. Many of the College’s students are pursuing this passion by spending multiple hours volunteering their services during this season of COVID-19. Below is a sampling of efforts. Medical Students for Masks was founded and organized at PCOM by Gabrielle Yankelvich (DO ’21) and Judy Lubas (DO ’21) to respond to the growing need for personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals. In collaboration with many volunteers, they have raised almost $70,000 since mid-March and secured more than 25,515 masks and other PPE for distribution to local healthcare systems, first responders and home health agencies. 1 Under the leadership of Kathleen Bridges (DO ’21), Medical Students for Masks – Atlanta, composed of more than 50 PCOM Georgia students, has raised $15,000 to purchase masks, PPE and other supplies for local healthcare workers. 2 --Hiral Patel (DO ’22), Amy Tran (DO ’22) and Manali Desai (DO ’22), students at PCOM Georgia, established COVID Captains, a team of students who grocery shop for the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Once someone requests assistance, teams of students either pick up online orders or shop for those not able to do so. COVID Captains provides services for those living within a 30-minute radius of campus. 3 --Fellowship recipient Varun Yarabarla (DO ’21), PCOM Georgia, joined with 11 other engineers, physicians and innovators from across the country to develop a low-cost, novel ventilator for use during the pandemic and beyond. The team members, who organized the nonprofit organization known as VentLife, plan to offer this technology to help save lives, especially in settings with limited resources like developing nations, and for military field and national stockpile use during medical emergencies. While they continue to work to secure funding, a functional prototype has been developed, and manufacturing partners have been secured. 4 --Macy Biddulph (PharmD ’21), PCOM Georgia, started a project to create 3D printed masks, each one taking about seven hours to complete. The masks are composed of three different 3D-printed pieces that are assembled with a filter, elastic and plastic coverings. She’s been donating them to her local neighbors, mail carriers and food industry workers. 5 --In an effort to encourage and thank healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the PCOM South Georgia Local Community Outreach Club, under the leadership of club president Sadie Daugereaux (DO ’23), wrote thank you notes and sent snacks to frontline employees at Colquitt Regional Medical Center. 6
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
CELEBRATING A GOLDEN JUBILEE, Lavinia “Vinnie” Lafferty’s career as executive assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Trustees at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has spanned five decades, five presidential tenures and thousands of students. She has witnessed the College’s growth, both in scope and size: the acquisition and construction of the present City Avenue campus, the opening of the healthcare centers, the sale and demolition of the hospital, the addition and expansion of academic programs, the institution’s reach into the South. Hers is an immeasurable institutional memory and an invaluable understanding of collegiality, of the very heart of the PCOM family. You can say she indeed owns a piece of PCOM history.
A RARE DISTINCTION Mrs. Lafferty shares the distinction with very few: holding the same job for over a half a century. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, workers change jobs 12 to 15 times—nearly every 4.4 years—throughout their careers. Millennials expect to stay in a position for less time (2.5 to 3 years), equating job-hopping with career advancement. “I was hired at the College on May 11, 1970,” she says. “I stayed because I could grow; I could learn something every day. If you like what you do, it isn’t work, it is a pleasure. Why change what you love? My motto has always been, ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’ ”
A HUMBLE BEGINNING In 1970, Mrs. Lafferty found herself going through a divorce, looking for employment close to home and to her toddler. 10
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
Mrs. Lafferty’s family doctor was an osteopathic physician, so she knew about the profession, and her son’s pediatrician practiced at the Frederic H. Barth Pavilion. She thought to apply to PCOM. Shortly thereafter, she was hired to work for the College controller, the office located in the Moss House (now, the Levin Administration Building). The position lasted four years. In September 1974, she was transferred into the President’s Office, joining Nancy McCullen, then secretary to the president. Mrs. Lafferty would go on to serve under Thomas M. Rowland, Jr., one of the most beloved figures in the history of the College, until his passing. “President Rowland was the ultimate professional; his whole demeanor was one of authority. He had served in World War II. He was very involved with the students and faculty and cared about them deeply. I remember that—even as he suffered from lung cancer—he came into work every day. At times, he ran PCOM from his hospital bed in Barth Pavilion.”
THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES AND BACK AGAIN In November 1984, J. Peter Tilley, DO, was elected as the College’s fifth president. “He had been vice president of operational affairs, a radiologist,” says Mrs. Lafferty. “When he assumed office, I remained in my post and continued my work.” Unfortunately, the mid-1980s marked the emergence of managed health care; reimbursement policies changed the face of medicine. Obtaining a medical degree became less appealing. During this time, the College and Barth Pavilion faced financial and management problems. “Things went from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Mrs. Lafferty notes.
MARKING A RETIREMENT In a radical turn of events in 1990, a new president, Leonard H. Finkelstein, DO ’59, backed by a dedicated group of DOs and new Board Chairman Herbert Lotman, LLD (Hon.), emerged to steer PCOM through its crisis and, ultimately, into a decade of prosperity. “President Finkelstein and the Kitchen Cabinet salvaged the College,” Mrs. Lafferty laughs. “President Finkelstein was strong-spirited but fair; he did what no one else could have done. He was a surgeon, and he carried out the duties of the office with the precision and judgment of a surgeon. He sold off Barth Pavilion [and Parkview] to save the College from bankruptcy. As an aside, I learned more about urology from him than I ever wanted to know! “Mr. Lotman deserves a lot of credit as well,” Mrs. Lafferty continues. “He was a gracious businessman through and through—a financial genius and a generous philanthropist. The College truly meant something to him; his wife has long-standing ties to the institution. He really kick-started the PCOM Foundation.” In January 2002, Matthew Schure, PhD, was installed as the College’s seventh president. “President Schure came from New York with a fresh strategic vision. He expanded the College’s graduate program offerings and brought PCOM Georgia to fruition,” Mrs. Lafferty says. “But for me, it was President Schure’s demeanor that had the greatest impact. He graciously opened his door and heart to the community; he had such a wonderful way about him, a profound goodness. He lived his beliefs and convictions. He was genuinely interested in everyone and everything. He instilled a culture of family.”
by Jennifer Schaffer Leone
AS ONE CHAPTER CLOSES, ANOTHER BEGINS Mrs. Lafferty has been working with Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, since he assumed the presidency in July 2014. “In many ways, he’s a good ‘end note’ for me,” Mrs. Lafferty says. “President Feldstein is a truly caring individual. He’s likeable, a people person. He makes himself readily available to faculty and staff—and especially the students. He always wants what is best for the students. I appreciate his sense of humor. He’s successfully driving the College academically and physically. He launched the PCOM Primary Care Innovation Fund and opened PCOM South Georgia. He’s been an excellent leader during this unprecedented pandemic. “As I retire, I have to say that I have been honored to work with and for the leaders who have guided the College— and the dedicated trustees who have steered the PCOM Board over the years. So many of my colleagues have become lifelong friends. “They say you’re only as good as the people you work with—and there is tremendous strength in our community.” Mrs. Lafferty officially retired from the College on May 29. In appreciation for her long service, the PCOM Board of Trustees and PCOM Foundation established The Lavinia Lafferty Pet Therapy Fund. Mrs. Lafferty is a passionate pet lover; the fund will provide annual pet therapy activities on the College campuses, lifting the spirits of the community for years to come.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
PCOM HEROES OF THE FRONT LINES Vignettes as told to Janice Fisher, Jennifer Schaffer Leone and David McKay Wilson
Theirs is a contract with humanity: to preserve health and life, at times heroically. DIGEST MAGAZINE SALUTES ALL OUR ALUMNI FIGHTING VALIANTLY ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE COVID-19 BATTLE.
NICOLAS APPLYRS, JR., MS/BIOMED ’13, DO ’19, MPH (PCOM GEORGIA) RESIDENT PHYSICIAN, LARKIN COMMUNITY HOSPITAL–PALM SPRINGS, HIALEAH, FLORIDA
never could have anticipated being on the front lines of a pandemic during my first year of residency. It has been a humbling experience. . . . In March, when COVID19 began to spread here in South Florida, I was working in the Emergency Department. During this time, diagnosis of COVID-19 was challenging due to the lack of available tests nationwide. . . . As requirements for testing and medical management rapidly changed, we acted quickly and efficiently as a healthcare team. Protocols were put in place to ensure efficient triage of patients under suspicion of COVID-19 infection. Half of the Emergency Department was sealed off with a giant tarp for patients suspected of COVID-19. A makeshift tent was set up in the back of the hospital for patient screenings. It was extremely important to be mindful of contamination in efforts to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. These cautious efforts were in place for the protection of patients, co-workers and family at home. . . . The hospital where I work primarily serves the Hispanic/Latino/Latina population; establishing physician/patient rapport is very important. Although our patients appreciate a hands-on approach, COVID-19 made it imperative to identify new ways of showing care and compassion. During my training at PCOM Georgia, faculty placed an emphasis on obtaining a very thorough history on every patient, thus proving useful when inquiring about risk factors such as recent travel, sick contacts, occupation and modes of transportation. Assessing this information, we were able to backtrack a patient’s recent exposures, with the objective to stop the infectious cycle. We also applied many principles that were based on bioterrorism lectures during the triage of patients. These aforementioned methods have proven to be key with the prevention of an outbreak amongst patients in our hospital.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/24/20
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
NICHOLAS C. AVITABILE, DO ’08
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY VAGELOS COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
arly to mid-March was when we started to see COVID19 patients in our Emergency Department. I started having symptoms on March 12, 13. My first symptom was a dry cough. After that I had fevers, chills, body aches, some headaches. I knew I had to stay home and get better, but I wanted to be on the front line. . . . I was able to return to work two weeks ago, right before the peak. It was a completely different department. Most patients in the ED had COVID-19. . . . It was very hard to see people come in critically ill. I’ve never seen anything like this in the 12 years I’ve been in emergency medicine. I’ve never seen anything like this where it is so novel and so widespread. . . . Now that I’ve been back for the past two weeks, a lot of the patients have been older. EMS brings them in and usually has instructions from the family, if there’s family available. . . . Sometimes EMS will tell us a patient is full code: DNR/ DNI—do not resuscitate, do not intubate. Other times, even though they don’t necessarily have that form with them, people don’t want to be resuscitated should their heart stop. Sometimes they do. So we try to talk to the patient if they’re awake, alert, able to answer questions even though they’re very dyspneic. We ask them what they want, should the condition deteriorate. Sometimes they say, ‘Please talk to my family about this too because I can’t make this decision alone.’ . . . One patient really couldn’t make up her mind. She wanted to get to one of her granddaughter’s events in the spring, but she had been thinking recently that she didn’t want to be resuscitated. She felt guilty. We said, ‘You know, this is your decision. It sounds like your family loves you so much, but you need to make this decision for yourself.’ This happens on every shift, several times a shift. This is all very new for all of us. . . . I previously preferred 12-hour shifts. Now I can prefer 8 hours. It’s just too emotionally and physically demanding to deal with 12 hours of the COVID craziness.” — As told to Janice Fisher, 4/15/2020
JOSHUA BARON, DO ’03 EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, BRYN MAWR HOSPITAL, MAIN LINE HEALTH, BRYN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA “
he pandemic is a different reality for sure. The saddest thing is how sick the patients are. They come into the emergency room, one after another after another. They can’t breathe. They are drowning in their own fluids. This virus is so virulent. It aggressively attacks the lungs and causes respiratory distress. It’s scary how some patients are overcome with a hunger for air. . . . The first woman I intubated was very sick. I helped her call her husband; I wasn’t sure she was going to survive. It could have been her last chance to say goodbye, I love you. . . . Overall, we are seeing fewer patients in the ER because people aren’t coming in with the ordinary scrapes and bruises that weekend warriors experience. There are fewer fender benders too. . . . As a healthcare practitioner, you have to be on your game. The mental stress is definitely trying. Every day—or even twice a day—a new protocol comes out about how we should treat patients with the coronavirus. The procedures keep changing. What’s the appropriate PPE? Are we intubating too early? Are we trying to avoid intubation? We are learning on the fly how to attack this virus. I’ve been reading research nonstop to stay one step ahead. . . . In March, my colleagues and I in the emergency room were doing the intubations. As ER docs, we take pride in our expertise in protecting airways on a regular basis. Then we realized how important it was to keep our frontline people safe, so we created a COVID-19 intubation team with anesthetists and nurse anesthetists who put on Power Air Purifying suits to do so. . . . Like many spouses of frontline providers, my wife is scared I’m going to get sick—or worse. I contemplated moving to my parents’ place in Ambler while they are wintering in Florida. I’m afraid that I might infect my wife and daughters, but I’ve been very careful. I take my shoes off in the garage, then strip down. I shower immediately. I social distance at dinner, around the house. It’s sad not to hug and kiss my kids. I hope I’ve developed some degree of immunity. If I were to get sick, I’d find alternate housing. For now, I’m trying to be as ‘normal’ as possible—during an abnormal time.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/11/20
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MICHAEL BENNINGHOFF, DO ’01
SECTION CHIEF, CRITICAL CARE, AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MEDICAL ICU, CHRISTIANACARE’S CHRISTIANA HOSPITAL, NEWARK, DELAWARE
serve on ChristianaCare’s COVID-19 Steering Committee, which meets daily to determine clinical guidelines for the health system’s intensive care, respiratory care and dialysis units. We embrace all the evidence out there, including the experience of our patients and publications from other national and international cohorts. We are consistently looking for new ways to tweak our guidelines. We learned from the Italian cohort. We learned from the Seattle cohort. We learned from the New York cohort. And then we pivoted our care. . . . The mantra early in the coronavirus outbreak was to intubate right away. We followed that protocol in mid-March. Then we looked at our situation. It just seemed like we were using up our resources, which were finite. We had to make sure we had room if we experienced a surge. . . . We learned from the Italians that the disease isn’t your run-of-the-mill respiratory distress syndrome. It’s a different beast. We stopped early intubation. Instead, we used high-flow oxygen, with patients on their stomachs, awake prone position. We had success with steroid anti-inflammatory treatments as well as monoclonal antibodies. There’s lots of doom and gloom
about coronavirus; you have to celebrate your wins. It feels good to have positive outcomes. And that is good for everybody’s morale. . . . We found that if you are younger and just your lungs are involved, we have been able to get patients through it. Unfortunately, many patients who are older have kidney failure and require dialysis. Combine that with acute respiratory distress, and that’s usually fatal. . . . We have layers of care for our caregivers. Our work schedule for physicians in the ICU helps too. They work five to seven days in a row, then have five to seven days off to recover and recharge and get back in the mix. That translates into 16 shifts a month, which they get to select. It helps prevent burnout. At the beginning, we were unsure of what we were dealing with—from the infectious nature of the virus to whether we’d have a shortage of PPE. . . . I feel blessed to work for a health system that supports its frontline staff. Donations of PPE came in from businesses around us. We’ve had tremendous support from our community. Every day, lunch is gifted by a local restaurant. Acts of kindness go a long way in times like this.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/14/20 DIGEST 2020
GINA M. BLOCKER, DO ’10, FAAEM
STAFF EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, ST. LUKE’S/ BAYLOR HOSPITAL, HOUSTON, TEXAS
was in the Army for 10 years prior to moving into the civilian world in 2017. I did my training at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas. And then I was stationed at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso. El Paso had more veterans, and Fort Hood had more healthy young servicemen—lots of kids, and the ER was always bustling with young families. . . . Now I’m drawing on the things that I learned—my skill set, my mentality— compartmentalizing my work life versus my home life. I am used to the critical care aspect, but it’s the preparation for going to and being at work that are different. As a breastfeeding mom, now I’m taking precautions for myself and my three-month-old. . . . I work my shifts fully donned in my own PPE, and I have to doff everything when I pump breast milk in my office. It’s a decontamination ritual that takes me about 15 minutes, and then I pump for about 22 minutes. I do that three times during each nine-hour shift while managing critical patients, taking calls from nurses, doing verbal orders, admitting patients to the hospital, checking lab results. . . . There’s the mental worry that I didn’t doff appropriately, and I’m trying to keep the breast milk as sterile as possible. . . . At home, my eight- and seven-year-olds are always asking, ‘Mom, you’re going to fight the coronavirus today, right?’ And my three-year-old says, ‘And you’re going to win!’ . . . The hardest part is when I come home. Usually I’ve been gone for at least 10 hours, and my kids haven’t seen me all day; they want to hug Mom, jump on Mom. I sneak in the front of my house, and I get completely stripped down, and then hop in the shower for 30 minutes, scrub, scrub, scrub. . . . The community support for us has been amazing. But I’ll say generally, for the physicians: we’re exhausted. . . . I’m meeting with people’s families and they can only see a tiny bit of me. I can’t even hold people’s hands. . . . Our cases are inching back up over the last four days since we opened up our state of Texas. I am concerned about the uptick. We’re not ready to reintegrate everyone back into the society at this point. . . . I wish I had a camera on me so that I could blast from the rooftops what this is actually doing to people. One of my close friends, 31 years old, no medical problems—she wound up in the ICU, intubated on ECMO [extracorporeal membrane oxygenation]. She was sedated for six weeks. She’s in recovery now. . . . Somebody said to me, ‘You know, you’re like a real-life hero.’ I never considered myself a hero. I always just said, ‘I answered the call.’ ” — As told to Janice Fisher, 5/23/20
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
ANDREW CANAKIS, DO ’18
RESIDENT, INTERNAL MEDICINE, BOSTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS “
hen I graduated from PCOM two years ago, I never thought I would be able to add ‘global pandemic’ to my repertoire of skills and experiences, yet here I am, a second-year resident in the midst of COVID-19. And since residents are often the first physicians patients see when they come to the hospital, we are truly on the front lines. . . . I’ve worked in the ICU throughout the outbreak. I’m fully garbed most of the time, with face shield, mask, gown, booties and bouffant to cover my hair. We all need to minimize our exposure. At first, I was anxious. But then I was there, gowning up with nurses, pharmacists and respiratory therapists. Our multi-disciplinary team is all in it together. . . . Daily, it is my job to cover the COVID consult pager, which means if a patient on a floor has increased oxygen demand, I evaluate to see if that patient needs to go to the ICU. If he or she can’t speak for himself/herself, I work to reach family members. We have very serious life decisions happening over the phone. . . . In terms of medicine, we are all learning new therapies together and vigilantly checking new trials around the world. . . . The ICU is eerily quiet these days. Patients stay in single rooms, behind glass doors, many on ventilators. There are no longer visitors crowded in the rooms or waiting in the hallways. Normal hustle and bustle has been replaced with silence and emptiness. . . . What drew me to internal medicine was the patient contact, interacting with families and helping them make complicated decisions. It is so hard on families who can’t see their loved ones in the ICU. I often end up on videoconference calls with healthcare proxies and families, updating them on the patient prognosis, asking what are their wishes about breathing machines, CPR. Last week, I was able to obtain permission for two family members to come into the ICU to see a very sick patient. It had taken over a week of advocacy to allow them to come in, dressed in full PPE. I was able to open that door for them (literally and figuratively); the experience brought us all to tears. . . . I miss sitting across from a family to discuss next steps in treatment. I miss hugging them as I share good news or comforting them as I relate bad news. I miss the power of touch. That’s what makes us human. At the moment, the power of words has become much more important. There is hope in our words, our compassionate communication—our commitment to our patients.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/19/20
CASEY NAUGHTON DOWLING, DO ’89, FASA ANESTHESIOLOGIST, WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA “
e’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, 4/24/2020
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JEREMY A. DUBIN, DO ’02, FASAM
MEDICAL DIRECTOR, FRONT RANGE CLINIC, FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, AND ASSISTANT CLINICAL PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, AURORA, COLORADO
work very long hours these days as medical director at the Front Range Clinic, Colorado’s largest network of outpatient substance abuse treatment centers. I’m up early and work into the evening. I answer emails and texts and put out two or three fires before 8:00 a.m. Then I go downstairs and have an online meeting with staff to game-plan the next 48 hours. We see up to 1,200 patients a week, in 19 brick-and-mortar clinics, three mobile units and more than two dozen points of care embedded in homeless shelters, syringe access centers and counseling clinics. . . . It’s crisis command from my home, still seeking PPE, coordinating the delivery of essential medical services, figuring out staffing. That’s our next contingency: what to do when the staff gets sick. As of mid-April, we have two N95 masks for everyone. We had a stockpile, but every day is a scramble. I’m in touch with vendors in more than 10 counties, tattoo parlors, construction sites. . . . We still need testing for the virus. There is a lack of a comprehensive testing infrastructure for COVID-19. This is hopefully improving. We are looking now for antibody tests, and the scams have begun. It’s the Wild West out here. . . . The severity of our patients has gone up significantly—with the fear of sickness, isolation at home, getting laid off or furloughed, adapting to virtual healthcare visits with providers. We’ve seen more relapses, more overdoses. One patient who’d been stable for seven months just overdosed and passed away. . . . We do have patients with COVID-19. Patients may use their COVID-19 diagnosis as an excuse not to come in for treatment. We are keeping our antennae up. We make plans to meet in the middle. We might ask: ‘How about you drop off a urine sample in 10 days and increase your virtual visits?’ Stable patients get the benefit of the doubt. But it’s more challenging for new or unstable patients. You need to do urine tests and see many of them in person. We need to make sure they are taking the medicines we are prescribing to them and to provide continued treatment accountability. We still have a robust urine collection system, with heightened precautions. We have some patients who show up, pee, get their vitals taken and then talk to us from their phone in the parking lot. . . . I am humbled by the work my colleagues are doing in the ICUs and on the front lines. I’m now receiving videos that teach outpatient physicians how to run ventilators, if everything goes south. I’m board-certified in family practice and addiction. The last time I ran a ventilator was in my residency 20 years ago. I’m quasi-terrified. But I’m watching the videos. I’m learning again in case they call me in.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/18/20
LISA FINKELSTEIN, DO ’87
MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TELEHEALTH, ST. JOHN’S HEALTH, JACKSON, WYOMING “
y motto used to be: ‘Telemedicine is medicine.’ Today I say, ‘It takes a pandemic!’ Even in Teton County, Wyoming, with 10,000 full-time residents, we’ve had 95 COVID-19 cases since late April, with one death. Now we’re concerned about the arrival of tourists in May for the annual hunt in the mountains for antlers shed by elk each spring. Jackson Hole, the parks and restaurants are closed for social distancing, but the governor decided not to cancel the state’s signature event. We’re worried hundreds will come to find a rack, and bring the disease with them. . . . When I came out here to this very rural state 17 years ago to practice urology, I traveled long distances to see patients. One clinic was 75 miles away—through Hoback Canyon—via a road closed at times by avalanches. Another clinic was either a four-hour drive or a flight on a twin-engine King Air turboprop. . . . We launched our first telemedicine initiative in 2010, but the technology was not ready for prime time. It was frustration after frustration. . . . Two years ago, when the technology had improved, I became president of the Wyoming Medical Society. Telemedicine was my initiative. I led by example, with a HIPAA-compliant Zoom license, and virtual visits with patients hundreds of miles away. I spoke to the legislature. I spoke to the governor. I traveled the state to get physicians on board. It was like pushing a rock up the Grand Teton. . . . I had grueling conversations with 22
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doctors so resistant to change. But my hospital network backed it. A Wyoming state grant that sponsored 500 Zoom licenses for telemedicine technology meant a good network was in place when the pandemic struck. Then we tripled the number of licenses in six weeks. The house is burning down. What was just dribs and drabs is now a firehose. . . . From the start, Medicaid and Blue Cross gave us parity on telemedicine visits. Remote patient monitoring is the next step. It is reliable. Patients will be set up with a pulse ox, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, scale. There are telestethoscopes that read heartbeats over a smartphone and digital devices that look into eyes and ears. . . . Patients love the convenience. They don’t have to take the day off to be seen. They can even do televisits from work. It takes stress off being sick. I can do 80 percent of my exams with eyes on my patient over Zoom. . . . I really believe that the coronavirus crisis marks a before and after in telemedicine. Once the dust settles, physicians who incorporate telemedicine into their practices will have a leg up. . . . My next initiative focuses on telemedicine education for medical students and residents. It goes back to my motto: ‘Telemedicine is medicine.’ The paradigm has shifted.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/28/20
MELANIE GARTHWAITE, MS/FM ’17
SUPERVISOR, STATE OF NEW JERSEY TEMPORARY MORGUE FACILITY, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
s of early May, New Jersey’s COVID-19 death toll exceeded 7,800. The number of deaths at hospitals, nursing homes and funeral homes far exceeded their storage capacity, so the state opened a second temporary morgue facility in Monmouth County (Central New Jersey). The facility has a capacity for 1,400 bodies. So far, we’ve accepted 190 people, with 100 still here. We are working in conjunction with the New Jersey National Guard and the New Jersey State Police. . . . At the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where I work under normal circumstances, our case volume hasn’t gone up that much, since South Jersey has not yet been as severely impacted as densely populated North Jersey. Many COVID-19 cases do not fall under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. But if someone is found dead in his/her home, and we don’t know why he/she passed away, the case is accepted by the Medical Examiner’s Office. . . .We don’t do the transport to the temporary morgue sites. One of the sobering realities is how the remains arrive—in U-Haul trucks from hospitals, refrigerated trailers, minivans, Suburban SUVs. . . . In my line of work, we don’t get to save people. But I believe we are on the front lines, aiding the overwhelmed mortuary services sector. There’s such a backlog with cremations and burials. In
some places, cremations are being scheduled for June or July. . . . We don’t give people deadlines. Some funeral homes store bodies here for a couple of days. Others can take a couple of weeks or a month before they can be cremated. There are quite a few cases from nursing homes who have no next of kin. We are working with the State Police to identify next of kin so the people can be finally put to rest. I’ve spoken to families from all over the world, people who are trying to figure out where their loved one is. . . . We’re trying to keep our spirits up. We listen to music. We are working in a beautiful setting, surrounded by blooming gardens. What a drastic difference: a warm greenhouse and a cold refrigerator. . . . One of the hardest aspects for the families is the lack of human interaction when their loved one passes away. When somebody dies under normal circumstances, most families have a funeral, a memorial, some kind of celebration of life. Friends and loved ones surround those who are mourning. They comfort through hugs and embraces. . . . We’re scheduled to close on July 1, but that will depend on how things evolve. We need to be cognizant of the possibility of a second wave of the virus after lockdowns lift.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/29/20 DIGEST 2020
WILLIAM GREENHUT, DO ’08, FACEP
ATTENDING PHYSICIAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE, AND ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, MONTEFIORE NYACK HOSPITAL, NYACK, NEW YORK “
n New York City’s northern suburbs, we knew a hurricane was coming in late February. Instead of running away, we chose to run toward it. We chose to stand in it for 12 hours a day, every day, not knowing when the storm would pass. We educated people early about the outbreak. But once it became widespread, it adversely affected communities with lower economic status and large populations of people who couldn’t easily adhere to social distancing. . . . Overall, the volume in our Emergency Department is down 20 to 40 percent. But 80 to 90 percent of our new patients are suspected of having coronavirus, so it takes a disproportionate amount of resources. We converted part of our ED into two new ICUs. COVID-19 is a huge stress on the hospital. . . . At first, we were told that COVID-19 primarily affected older people and those with respiratory problems. That gave us a sense of calm; we were a little relaxed. I have pictures of myself back then, just wearing a surgical mask. Then the numbers grew. Today, I wear a filtered mask, a cap, gown and utility goggles. I get dehydrated because I need to take off my mask to drink. I fear that the virus is on the gown, on my cap, on everything I’m wearing. . . . Putting young patients on ventilators is one of the toughest things I do. I’m 40 years old. I watch patients in their 20s and 30s in total terror, gasping for air, looking to me for help. I share with them that the majority of people survive the illness, but 15 to 20 percent require hospitalization for several days. I try to give them a realistic hope. But it is an alarming experience for them—and for me. . . . Our nation has a poor success rate getting patients off the ventilator. We treat anyone over the age of 70 in respiratory distress with oxygen. We place them on their stomachs, in prone positioning, and pray for them. If they go on a ventilator, there’s a good chance they will never come off, never see their family again. . . . I’ve found that our hospital staff has a shared, overwhelming sense of obligation to be with our community during its time of need. We know what we are supposed to do. No one else can do it. We take the risk. It’s our job, our calling.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/12/20
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JAMES NICK HERNANDEZ, PharmD ’19 (PCOM GEORGIA) INDEPENDENT PHARMACIST, BIRMINGHAM, MICHIGAN “
work at an independent compounding pharmacy a little bit west of downtown Detroit. It’s nice to be able to say about a medication, ‘If that’s not working, let’s try to tailor it to you.’ . . . In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first week after the quarantine was put into effect, work was chaotic; we were just slammed. People were worried about whether there would be drug shortages, whether they’d be able to access their medications. My boss, the owner, told us, ‘We have to change some things, because everything around us is changing.’ . . . We started offering curbside service and a lot more delivery, same-day delivery service—the owner has five kids. . . . We’re also pretty busy providing masks, regular surgical masks. We started making our own hand sanitizer at one point just to try to get it to our patients, to doctors’ offices. Because we’re a compounding pharmacy, we were able to do that. . . . Earlier today we spent about an hour and a half moving 14,000 pounds of hand sanitizer. It came on a semi truck, and we had to borrow two forklift pallet jacks to put it in one of our storage container sheds. . . . So COVID has meant that we’ve had to adapt on a daily basis. But mostly it’s about being here for the patients, providing whatever we can. We get a lot of questions: What should I be doing? What should I be taking? Are there certain vitamins or supplements? . . . A lot of our patients have been coming here for years. We know most of them on a first-name basis. In times like this, we just try to provide the best care we can. We never want to have to tell them they cannot get medication due to shortages of any sort.” — As told to Janice Fisher, 4/21/2020
JACK KELLY, DO ’85
PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, PCOM; PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, SIDNEY KIMMEL MEDICAL COLLEGE, THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY; AND ATTENDING FACULTY AND EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, EINSTEIN HEALTHCARE NETWORK, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
“ ’d seen hundreds of viral influenza-like illness patients since late February. On March 16, as I finished my shift and came home, I felt utterly exhausted. My body ached. My nose was stuffy. My temperature was 99.1 I felt better after taking Motrin. But my lethargy and aches continued for five days; I had no cough, no diarrhea. My temperature remained at 99. … On March 21, I called my primary care doc and had a viral panel drawn and a COVID-19 test. My test was sent three states away. I didn’t get my results until seven days later. The test was positive. … A day later, on March 22, I became dramatically ill with severe shakes and rigors. My wife [Fran Sirico-Kelly, DO ’87] listened to my lungs. ‘You have crackles in your left lung base,’ she declared. ‘Your heart rate is 105 and pulse oximeter is 91 percent. You are going to the hospital.’ That night, two of my emergency medicine colleagues examined me in the ER. They found bilateral ground-glass infiltrates and a left lower lobe pneumonia. But my oxygen saturation was 96 percent and I really did not meet criteria for admission. They gave me IV antibiotics and a Z-Pak. ‘I think I can tough it out at home,’ I said. … I self-quarantined in our guest bedroom. My wife delivered food and medicine to the upstairs landing. It was one of the darkest, most awful periods in my life. The viral symptoms were brutal: severe body aches, no energy at all. 26
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Every breath, associated with dull central chest achiness, was hard work. When I developed shakes and rigors, I’d burrow under five blankets to cope. … Every day got worse. I would check my vitals and send pictures to my wife so we could map out the clinical course. Her anxiety was high. She worried if she would find me alive in the morning. … I was alone. It was my personal struggle. Each day, my wife would make me a double cappuccino and freshly baked muffin (her way of cheering me up). I’d shave and shower off 24 hours of viral sweat. I still felt weak and dizzy. … It took eight days before my temperature stayed normal. By April 1, I’d lost 10 pounds along with strength and resilience. Each day, I began to feel better. I began to take two-mile walks with my wife, and I resumed strength training. … I went back to work Easter morning. It was my personal resurrection victory. … Now I’m three weeks’ post-quarantine and have regained all my strength. I’ve gained back six pounds. My heart rate, which was sustained for some time between 100-105 beats per minute, finally returned to the 65-70 beats per minute that I’m used to. There are so many COVID-19 patients coming into the ER. And I’m back in the game, working with my ER team.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/11/20
RICHARD PESCATORE, II, DO ’14, FAAEM CHIEF PHYSICIAN, DELAWARE DIVISION OF PUBLIC HEALTH, DOVER, DELAWARE
n 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 midMarch. 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 crosspollination. You can come to your cottage, but you have to stay inside.”
— As told to David McKay Wilson, 5/13/2020
SURAJ KUMAR SAGGAR, DO ’02 CHIEF, DEPARTMENT OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER, TEANECK, NEW JERSEY
ew Jersey has faced an extraordinary COVID-19 outbreak, suffering the second-highest death and infection totals in the country after New York. . . . As the contagion escalated in mid-March, our Bergen County hospital came under siege; it seemed that overnight we were in the midst of a war zone. Patients were high acuity, and a large number had severe outcomes. Those on ventilators saw a 10 to 15 percent survival rate. . . . The surge of patients required that our medical units be modified. Our materials management personnel got creative. Within a week, the “shell ICU” was created—a modular MASH unit built to accommodate 40 infected patients. Areas were converted into negative pressure spaces, drawing out air to prevent contamination inside. Monitoring equipment was placed outside pressurized rooms, which reduced the amount of PPE used. We used inpatient isopods and transport isopods. All of these measures helped us conserve critical resources during a supply shortage. . . . By the end of March, we were solely treating COVID-19 patients. Daily, we were building out to accommodate increasing need. Our administration appealed to the public for donations and supplies. . . . The epicenter of the pandemic in New Jersey, we have become a national model. We are heartened by our unprecedented frontline care. We are also burned out. Many are suffering from acute stress, PTSD. Our hospital has had an up-close view of daily tragedies. We have mourned the death of four employees, and over a dozen doctors have been sickened. Our hospital CEO also contracted the virus. Personally, I can tell you that the fear I saw in patients’ eyes still sticks with me. The sounds of the pandemic have become embedded in my consciousness. They keep me up some nights. . . . As an infectious disease physician, it has been intellectually stimulating to witness a pandemic in real time, the first in the social media era. The pace at which risk-assessment, research and guidance has emerged, the way clinicians across disciplines, across the globe, have come together, is truly remarkable. . . . Here in Teaneck we have reached our peak. We are seeing fewer COVID-19 patients. . . . I have become involved in clinical trials: Kevzara (primary investigator) and expanded access of the drug remdesivir (sub-investigator). I’m also looking at potential therapeutics and serum antibodies. There is anecdotal evidence that the drugs may help patients infected with COVID-19, but peer-reviewed studies are needed. . . . We’re not out of the woods yet. There will likely be more waves of the virus. We need to stay ahead of the curve. We need to be vigilant. We need a vaccine. Herd immunity will take longer.” — As told to Jennifer Schaffer Leone, 5/11/2020
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AMANDA L. SCOTT, DO ’19
GENERAL SURGERY PRELIMINARY INTERN, NEWARK BETH ISRAEL, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY “
ur 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, 4/16/2020
Photo reprinted—with permission—from The Blade
JASON A. SMITH, DO ’08, CIC, FAOASM
MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SPORTS MEDICINE, MERCY HEALTH; AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TOLEDO – LUCAS COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, TOLEDO, OHIO
am a primary care sports medicine doctor with 40 high schools, colleges and organizations under my direction. I work for the United States Soccer Federation, too, when the national teams play in Ohio. And I see patients who have varying degrees of musculoskeletal problems. I have no background in public health. So, it came as a surprise to me on March 11 when I was asked if I wanted to serve as the county health department’s medical director. The role would take 10 hours a month—or so they said. . . . By March 13, I officially had the job. The next day, our county had its first COVID-19 case. . . . One of my first tasks was to cancel the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon, a premier event, after the CDC prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people. I’m medical director of the race, which usually has 10,000 runners and 25,000 spectators. Spring high school and college sports had to be cancelled as well. . . . I’m now working at least 70 hours a month on the county job. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. . . . There are three things you look for in a county health department medical director: previous work in public health (I had no experience); a master’s degree in public health (nope); a desire to practice medicine related to public health services (I never showed it). But I’ve now come to realize that my skill set as a sports medicine physician was grossly undervalued. I’m precise in my execution. I know how to set up protocols to protect 30
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people—how to prevent and treat injuries. . . . Within the first week, we had protocols to test first responders at their homes. We made recommendations for them about PPE use—what to wear and when to wear it to avoid exposure. We established infection control procedures at the county jail. Since early May, our jail has been COVID-free for two weeks. We haven’t had a first responder test positive in 12 days. We are protecting those who are protecting us. . . . To date, our county has had 1,806 cases and 165 deaths. We’ve plateaued, with about 30 new cases a day. The scary thing is that we don’t know if we have peaked yet. . . . We’ve started to open up in Ohio. I meet frequewntly with the Chamber of Commerce about how to do it safely. We are all under pressure. If you do too much, you’ll be faulted. You do too little, you’ll be faulted. I think it’s better to do too much than too little. . . . If we were in a baseball game, it feels like we’d be in the second inning. This isn’t over. It’s not going away. We’ve got to be smart and safe for our families and others. We have to stay on task; an uptick in cases could come about if we relax social distancing measures too quickly and too much. While we undoubtedly need to concentrate on issues such as soaring joblessness, we have to prepare for a second wave. We know it’s coming.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 5/7/20
LAUREN TAVANI SOTTILE, MS/PA-C ’08 MEDICAL ICU PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT, CHRISTIANACARE, NEWARK, DELAWARE “
’ve worked in the medical ICU for almost 12 years. A lot of changes came with the COVID-19 pandemic. . . . You’re constantly reading new articles and shifting your treatment paradigm. In critical care, you’re always having conversations about goals of care. When every conversation with a family member is over the phone and they can’t see their loved one—that’s been really hard, harder than I thought it would be, especially since some of the patients we have cared for have tragically passed. You hear the desperation in the family members’ voices. All they have is you, telling them what’s happening. . . . Our entire unit is COVID-19. We haven’t seen a normal ICU patient in six weeks. . . . Three or four advance practice providers are scheduled every day, part of a multidisciplinary team: the APP or the resident, the intensivist, the bedside nurse, respiratory therapy, pharmacy. We have a whole fleet. . . . When we’re having a rough day, we talk to each other about it. The hospital has a number of different resources available for us. And in weekly team meetings, we talk out anything that’s going on. We also try to focus on the positive moments—like when we have a good outcome. We share the news, we celebrate it; the positive moments can really carry you through darker ones. . . . Never in my life have I been thanked so much for being a healthcare worker. Our walls in the ICU are covered with pictures and signs that children have sent to us. I have not had to bring a meal to work in a month; every meal is donated by someone. My coworkers have had strangers buy them gas, buy them coffee. So many things have happened over the past six weeks that have made me see the good in people. . . . When you go into health care, it’s a life of service, but you get so much more in return than you ever put back. You don’t expect anything like this. But I think it’s a testament to what humans can do when we’re faced with adversity and how strong we can be when we come together. I know we’re going to get through it.” — As told to Janice Fisher, 5/1/2020
MICHELE TARTAGLIA, DO ’02, FACOOG, CS
OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNECOLOGIST, CHRISTIANACARE, NEWARK, DELAWARE “
e are five months into this global pandemic, and we still know relatively very little about COVID-19 infection in the general population, let alone the obstetric one. There is insufficient data on vertical transmission of SARS CoV-2; an early study out of China is somewhat reassuring, while a new one from Italy hints at transmission. We don’t know if maternal infection has any immunologic benefit to the neonate. We are gathering more information every day here in the United States, but this does little to assuage the fears of pregnant moms. . . . The patients I see are overwhelmingly concerned about the impact coronavirus will have on their family’s health, if there is an increased risk of miscarriage or other complications. They are very anxious about delivery if they are positive at that point in time. They fear having to immediately isolate from their new baby and family. They are concerned about the impact it will have on breastfeeding. Worry is a constant companion during pregnancy; it is heartbreaking to witness this kind of anguish. . . . Perhaps more disconcerting are the health inequities that have been magnified by the pandemic. While I take labor and delivery call and do OB triage [ER shifts], my role for my department with respect to the COVID-19 epidemic has primarily been in the outpatient world. I manage our hospital’s COVID-19 Pregnancy Center, treating positive patients or those suspected of having the virus. We are able to provide lab services, maternal fetal medicine ultrasound services, prenatal care and basic urgent women’s healthcare needs to women who would otherwise not be able to be seen safely in their usual office setting. I see patient referrals from private practices as well as state-funded clinics. . . . Many of the patients I see live in crowded conditions, multiple adults and children under one roof—a greater potential for viral spread. Many rely on public transportation to get to their prenatal care appointments. Some work service jobs that put them in dangerous proximity to others. They lack access to health care and health insurance outside of pregnancy. Many struggle to afford even their prenatal vitamins. There are so many barriers. Too many barriers. . . . One afternoon, I admittedly hit my breaking point. I threw a box of PPE in my trunk, climbed into my Subaru and off I drove. I made my first impromptu house call to a COVID-19 positive patient whose situation rendered her unable to come to the center for her weekly progesterone injection that helped prevent a recurrent preterm birth. Without it, there could be a COVID-19 positive mom going into preterm labor because of a very simple injection. I thought showing up on her doorstep in all my PPE was going to be intimidating, but instead I saw a bit of relief on my patient’s face in the midst of all this craziness.” — As told to Jennifer Schaffer Leone, 5/15/2020
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JUK TING, DO ’95
FIRST OFFICER, BOEING 747-400 PILOT, KALITTA AIR, YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN; AND STAFF PHYSICIAN AND ASSISTANT CLINICAL PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, CITY OF HOPE COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER, DUARTE, CALIFORNIA
was one of four pilots on the first evacuation flight of Americans out of Wuhan, China [January 29, 2020]. During the flight, I recall thinking back to my emergency medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic – South Pointe Hospital when I took flying lessons to reduce the stress of grueling residency training. I’ve been fascinated with airplanes since I was a child. My school bus used to pass by Orange County Airport in Virginia. I dreamed then—at best—I’d be a weekend warrior pilot, buzzing the neighborhoods in a small plane. But now I fly the Queen of the Skies: the Boeing 747. Since 2016, I’ve been an airline pilot, first for United Airlines Express, then Southern Air. I presently fly for Kalitta Air—all around the world—and I do still practice as a physician. I am able to combine my two passions: aviation and medicine. . . . I was in Hong Kong on reserve flight duty when volunteers were sought to pilot an evacuation flight into Wuhan during the height of the coronavirus outbreak. United States government officials and their families, as well as other American citizens, were trapped in the epicenter of a pandemic—without medical care, without food or water. . . . The 747 has two decks: the crew on the upper deck, and passengers below. The upper deck was sealed off. Seats and medical equipment were installed on the lower deck for 201 passengers who’d been screened
and quarantined prior to boarding. None were showing symptoms of COVID-19. . . . My flight crew of 10 flew from Incheon, South Korea, into Wuhan. When we landed, Wuhan Airport was empty except for another evacuation flight next to us that arrived the same night to fly Japanese citizens back to Japan. Since we were the first evacuation flight, there was so much caution to protect the flight crew, airport staff and the passengers from this unknown virus. Boarding was very time-consuming—over six hours. I grew up in Taiwan, so I was able to coordinate between our flight crew and the Wuhan ground staff, who spoke little English. . . . Our outbound flight to Anchorage, Alaska, took 11.5 hours. For passenger safety, we could only fly slow and low at 27,000 feet, much longer than usual. In Anchorage, new crews took over and continued the flight to March Air Force Reserve Base in Riverside County, California. . . . I had to be symptom-free for 14 days before I could return to my hospital work. I was honored to be part of the evacuation. Returning the evacuees safely to American soil was a profoundly moving and uplifting experience for me.” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/21/20 *In honor and remembrance of Frank Gabrin, DO ’85, who inspired me and trained me in emergency medicine from 1993 to 1999. D I G E S T 2 0 2 0 33
DOMINIC VALENTINO III, DO ’01, FCCP, FACOI
CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, PCOM; AND PHYSICIAN, CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE, INTERNAL MEDICINE, SLEEP MEDICINE, AND PULMONARY MEDICINE, CHRISTIANACARE’S CHRISTIANA HOSPITAL, NEWARK, DELAWARE
’m managing chronic lung disease patients with telephone and video virtual visits while also managing patients in the ICU. We want to keep our chronic patients out of the hospital to cut down on risks. We’ve had telemedicine capability for some time, but nationally there was slow adaptation due to lack of support from insurers. That’s changed on a dime. We can now talk to them and help them with the isolation they feel. Vital signs can be an issue, but many have pulse oximeters while others can take their own blood pressures. We can’t do OMM over the phone, but you can guide patients how to do it themselves. . . . In the ICU, I see patients with COVID-19 pneumonia that have multiple areas of their lungs that are inflamed and filling in with infectious fluid that doesn’t allow for gases to be exchanged. You can’t take it out with a diuretic. What’s making these patients so sick is their immune system ramping up into what we call an acute cytokine storm, causing damage to the lungs and other organs. We use steroids to curb the storm. While we’ve told people to avoid steroids before becoming infected because it could lower your resistance, once you have COVID, and your system is overly ramped up, steroids can play an important role. . . . We’ve made inroads with COVID patients by doing awake proning, which improves areas of the lungs that can perform oxygen exchange. We also use high-flow nasal cannulas, which have prevented some patients from intubation. Wall oxygen can go up to 15 liters a minute. We have devices that amplify the oxygen flow up to 50 liters a minute. Patients with the large nasal cannula can talk and eat, plus they are not aerosolizing the virus, which protects healthcare workers. . . . Personally, I use social media to reach more people with evidence-based messages about the coronavirus. I post weekly on my Facebook page—Dom Val—without hype and politics, in a straightforward manner. I discuss what we might expect in the coming weeks, pointing to CDC or other predictive models. I talk about the importance—and rationale—for social distancing and wearing masks in public. One post had 1,300 shares—all the way to Australia and Poland. I finish each post with a positive message about America’s response and my belief that our resilience will bring us through to the end. I want to help as many people as I can. What better time to do it?” — As told to David McKay Wilson, 4/22/20
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
DANIELLE WARD, DO ’18 (PCOM GEORGIA) URGENT CARE PHYSICIAN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA “
hen the COVID-19 crisis first began, our volume was astronomically high. Normally in a shift I see about 20 to 30 patients; in one shift I had 60—I had to call in help. . . . We are still open during our normal hours—8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.—but one of our two facilities sees the morning crew, and the other facility sees the night crew. . . . If anyone’s having coronavirus symptoms, we politely ask them to go to their car and give us a call. They can do a telemedicine visit. It’s our way of protecting the patients as well as ourselves. . . . When I come into work, I have my temperature taken. I used to be able to walk into a patient’s room and shake their hand, introduce myself. Now I’m going in wearing a mask, greeting them only verbally, so I don’t feel like the patients know me. . . . We’re not doing COVID-19 testing until we get the proper PPE, the N95s and the shields so we can protect our staff—not just the physicians, but also front desk workers, medical assistants. . . . I’m incredibly lucky and blessed to work. I usually have a patient waiting. A lot these days are hand lacerations and such—people are at home, they want to learn how to cook. They’re afraid to go to the emergency room at night, so they’ll wait and then they come see me. . . . In between seeing physical patients, I see my telemedicine patients— and most of them are concerned about COVID-19. So I talk them through it, find out their symptoms, refer them to the appropriate facilities to get tested if needed. A few of them call back in a few weeks and let me know they’re feeling much better. So that’s the highlight of my day. . . . The biggest thing we see is chest pain. But after a thorough workup and deeper discussion, we find it’s usually anxiety. So I let them know, ‘Hey, everyone’s anxious. I hear you, I understand your concerns.’ Then I tell them what to look for. ‘Around days seven and eight, that’s when shortness of breath develops. But anxiety can also cause that issue. Can you walk to this door without feeling like you’re going to pass out?’ It’s explaining things on their terms. And now I give them my personal email, so they feel a little bit better knowing they can reach out to me with questions. It calms them down. People are really scared. . . . I have a small role—I think about my colleagues in the ICU. But I try to help as much as I can.” — As told to Janice Fisher, 4/22/2020
SAI-KIT WONG, DO ’03 NEW YORK CITY ANESTHESIOLOGIST “
hen the pandemic hit, I was not on the front line. I never imagined that I would be thrust into this position. In the 14 years I have been an anesthesiologist, I can count on one hand how many deaths I have had on the operating table. I’ve never dealt well with death. . . . Since March, all elective surgeries have been cancelled. I spend fewer hours in the hospital during the week, but each hour is more intense. I have taken on the ‘airway role.’ I respond to emergency intubations in the medical center. Many of the COVID-19 patients I see are in their 30s, 40s and 50s with no comorbidities. Some are elderly, fewer are children. When these patients require ICU level care, they often need extended respiratory support. They present with severe hypoxia or acute respiratory distress; their oxygen saturation levels are in the 50s or 60s. There is no time to waste delivering care. In my experience, 70 to 80 percent of those placed on ventilators pass away. It is difficult to predict who will live and who will die. . . . Here in New York, the unimaginable has become a ‘new normal.’ I recall a night on call when I was so emotionally drained. After a case, I pulled my cell phone out to call my pastor. As I moved toward a large window, I was paralyzed. Parked on the street below were four refrigerator trucks. Mobile morgues. No one prepares you for this. . . . . One of the most anxiety-producing parts of my job has been the shortage of PPE. For weeks my team and I were intubating COVID-19 positive patients with nothing more than N95 masks, eye shields, gloves and gowns. Through a miracle, I was able to—with my own funds—secure essential protective gear for myself and my department. We are now better prepared for battle, at least physically. . . . It is so hard to be isolated from my family. My four young children cannot comprehend why I cannot hug or kiss them or why when I am home, I am in quarantine in our home office. If I do have coronavirus, I don’t want to infect my family. There are people with mild symptoms or who are in the asymptomatic phase. We have no idea what the transmission potential of those asymptomatic patients is or how long that phase is. There is so much about this virus that we do not know. . . . My oldest son just turned nine. His birthday brought with it a frightening realization. I want to see my kids grow old, to spend time with my wife. I want to hang out with my boys and do stupid manly things and I want to see my girls on their wedding days. . . . I am far from a hero. I am a physician. I held and still hold a moral commitment to provide care to those who need it, despite risk to myself. That was the oath I took when I became a physician.” — As told to Jennifer Schaffer Leone, 4/2/20
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ANNA ZACHARCENKO, PSYD ’06
FAMILY MEDICINE PSYCHOLOGIST AND CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL AND APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY, PCOM, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
serve two roles: as a psychologist and as a clinical supervisor of psychology trainees. As psychologists, we have rapidly shifted our mode of practice to a telehealth platform. . . . In our remote sessions with patients, we’re seeing more frontline workers employed in healthcare settings requesting psychological support. These patients report fearing going to work. They’re wrestling with being dedicated to their profession and at the same time feeling protective of themselves and their family members. . . . Patients may fear they’re COVID-19 positive, or be struggling with the adjustment to sheltering in place. I’m focused on communicating as much emotional presence and kindness as I can on the video call or telephone call, because we are not face to face. . . . My patient may have learned that someone in their family, or a close friend, has died of COVID19. Given social distancing requirements, that patient may be robbed of the opportunity to engage in their cherished cultural rituals to say goodbye to their loved one or their friend. So their grief in some ways is disenfranchised. . . . As a supervisor, I am guiding our students as they continue to learn in a time of uncertainty. For some of our psychology students that I supervise, this may be the first time they’ve provided service telephonically. Coaching students in how to address bereavement issues can be challenging and also deeply rewarding. It provides me with a unique opportunity to bond with our students and to help them walk through this process. . . . Even if it isn’t a crisis call and no one is in imminent danger, if the patient is emotionally distressed, we want to make sure that we’re listening to the tone of voice and exploring what the silences and the pauses mean. . . . As a training program with a cognitive-behavioral orientation, we guide patients in examining their deeply held beliefs about themselves, about the world, and others. Needless to say, our beliefs regarding the safety of the world are being tested. . . . Similarly, in the supervision process, I’m asking students to examine their own thoughts and their own anxieties about how well they have helped the patient at this point in time. And that openness to self-reflection is fertile ground for maturing as a professional. . . . Given the profound losses due to COVID-19, there will be a need for behavioral health services as the future unfolds. This pandemic will provide us the opportunity to grow into more compassionate healers. At the end of the day, I want my patients to know that they were cared for during this frightening time.”
— As told to Janice Fisher, 5/5/2020 DIGEST 2020
EXAMS MAY BE CANCELLED, BUT HUMANITY IS NOT: A MEDICAL STUDENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC Elizabeth Avakoff (DO ‘21) and Omneya Ayoub (DO ‘21)
“Stay at home!” Public health pleas to help “flatten the curve” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a wave of societal disruptions. Social distancing, defined as keeping yourself at least six feet away from others and avoiding gatherings of ten or more people, has become the new norm for Americans over the past three weeks. These (among other) dramatic societal changes and growing pressure on our nation’s hospital systems have had a distinct impact on medical education, particularly when it comes to clinical training. As third year medical students, our professional development has heavily relied on in-person clinical experiences, directly interacting with patients and healthcare providers. However, with the national push for a 14-day quarantine, students across the country were pulled from their clinical settings until further notice.1,2 In a vast departure from our normally structured path to residency, licensing examinations were also temporarily suspended and our professional lives were placed on hold.3 Medical education institutions across the country have faced the challenge of inventing new ways of supporting student learning in these critical years of clinical training. In many medical schools, this has led to the roll-out of new virtual clinical experiences and greater utilization of dynamic, online training modalities. Students at the University of Illinois, for example, are observing procedures through video conferencing and utilizing mock scenarios to prepare for future patient encounters.4 Likewise, on the East Coast at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, students log-in to live virtual journal clubs, lectures and morning reports. These “online clerkships” support students’ continued professional development and progression through educational requirements.
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In an informal survey of medical students across the country, there was a resounding concern for what the sweeping societal changes would mean for our residency preparations and our clinical training overall. Simultaneous with online learning, medical students have taken ownership over their residency preparedness, utilizing their additional time to work on personal statements, curriculum vitaes, and study for licensing examinations. Students also expressed concern for their mental health in these uncertain times, finding relief in connecting with family and friends and catching up on much needed self-care. Whether revisiting lost culinary skills, reading a new book, or even going for a run, many have found this time at home to be grounding and introspective. As medical students, we are constantly engrossed in our education and learning the details needed for each progressive step in our training. This new time out of the hospital has allowed us to take a step back and in light of our nation’s COVID-19 response, see the system as a whole from a new perspective. At the same time, we have not lost sight of our colleagues and mentors on the frontlines in this pandemic. In fact, students across all healthcare professions have voiced an earnest desire to do our part in the COVID19 pandemic.5 Through the power of social media, communities across the Mid-Atlantic have seen an outpouring of volunteerism, donations and camaraderie amongst students across the healthcare spectrum. Through Facebook groups such as the “Philadelphia Organization of Health Professions Students - COVID Response,”6 nearly 2,000 students in nursing, medicine, dental medicine, podiatry, veterinary medicine and physician assistant programs have come together for a united goal of stepping off the sidelines. This group has allowed students to collaborate, allocate resources, spread awareness and collect much needed
personal protective equipment from the community. From blood drives, to child and pet care for healthcare workers, to meals for our region’s most vulnerable populations, this group continues to develop innovative ways of supporting our mentors, colleagues and patients from our new positions at home. Through this enthusiasm for public service, our Mid-Atlantic medical and allied health professions students have found a way to continue making a difference, while forging new inter-professional crosscollaborations. As our nation learns some hard and invaluable lessons in the spread and management of infectious diseases, emergency preparedness, and population health, we too have found this period to be transformative. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on our individual roles as future physicians in the greater community at large. Students have expressed a greater appreciation for the physician’s role in population health, citing the importance of elevating public awareness, preventing the spread of infectious diseases and having resources on hand to effectively treat large numbers of critically ill patients. As future physicians, we are witnessing humanity at one of its most vulnerable times, not only for our nation, but across the world. In this transformative period, “stay at home” has thus become more than a blanket directive to self-isolate. To us, it represents a civic responsibility to protect one another from unnecessary exposures and a movement to individually and collectively do our part in this COVID-19 pandemic.
REFERENCES 1. Madhani, A. (2020, March 15). Top US infectious disease expert open to a 14-day ‘national shutdown’ to combat virus spread. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ ct-nw-coronavirus-national-shutdowninfectious-disease20200315-abn7gckptbd6tch24nlewgr2je-story.html 2. Ostrov, B. F. (2020, March 17). In Face Of Coronavirus, Many Hospitals Cancel On-Site Training For Nursing And Med Students. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved from https://khn.org/news/in-face-of-coronavirus-manyhospitals-cancel-on-site-training-fornursing-and-medstudents/ 3. American Medical Association. (2020, March 19). Resident & medical student COVID-19 resource guide. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.ama-assn. org/deliveringcare/public-health/resident-medicalstudent-covid-19-resource-guide 4. Cheung, A. (2020, March 25). Just as the need soars for health care workers to fight coronavirus, Chicago-area medical students are sidelined from seeing patients. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ ct-coronavirusmedical-school-rotations-chicago20200323-dn2h3gzbwrd3hgo6ga3iwpmsmu-story.html 5. Lee, Y. J. (2020, March 24). The coronavirus is preventing medical students from getting hands-on training in hospitals. Frustrated future doctors are looking for new ways to help. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/medical-studentstakenoff-hospital-rotations-want-to-help-2020-3 6. Philadelphia Organization of Health Professions Students - COVID Response. (2020, March 20). Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/ groups/152353182650533/
Reprinted with permission from the Delaware Journal of Public Health.
Vincent Lobo, Jr., DO, Bethany Beach, DE, was honored at the annual dinner for the Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER). Dr. Lobo was instrumental in facilitating the partnership between PCOM and DIMER nearly 20 years ago that allows PCOM to serve as the official osteopathic medical school for the state of Delaware, which does not have its own medical school.
Rabbi Merrill J. Mirman, DO, Media, PA, is certified as a professional insurance agent.
David Granoff, DO, Oswego, NY, is fully retired. Dr. Granoff was recently elected chairman of the (Erie) Canal New York Corporation and named to the board of directors of WCNY-TV’s Public Television Community Advisory Board. Dr. Granoff also serves as a member of the New York State Tourism Industry Association, recording secretary and museum redesign chair for the Fort Ontario–Safe Haven Holocaust Museum in Oswego and editor-inchief of his tourism website, www. DiscoverUpstateNY.com.
Barry J. Hennessey, DO, FAOASM, Indian Rocks Beach, FL, retired after 40 years as an orthopedic surgeon.
Pamela A. Crilley, DO, New Hope, PA, was the recipient of the 2020 Dean’s Special Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching by Drexel University College of Medicine. Michael J. Davidson, DO, Lewisburg, TN, retired in late 2019 after a 40-year career in primary care and hospital medicine. Dr. Davidson practiced in Simi Valley, California, from 1980 to 1989 and then spent the majority of his career practicing primary care in Lewisburg. Dr. Davidson retired after a year as a hospitalist in Lewisburg. Susan D. Peck, DO, Glenville, PA, is now practicing addiction medicine in addition to gynecology. Dr. Peck has stopped delivering babies and performing surgeries and focuses entirely on office practice. Jeanne L. Steiner, DO, Hamden, CT, was promoted to professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Steiner also serves as the medical director of the CT Mental Health Center and director of the Yale Fellowship in public psychiatry.
Bruce D. Cunningham, DO, Vineland, NJ, was named a 2020 Top Doctor in family practice by South Jersey Magazine. Louis C. Haenel, III, DO, Longboat Key, FL, is semi-retired and living in Florida. Dr. Haenel practices telemedicine two mornings a week with his former patients in New Jersey at Kennedy Health.
Donald V. J. Sesso, DO, Gwynedd Valley, PA, published an op-ed in the March 2019 edition of the Journal of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association titled “Concerns Regarding Legalization of Recreational Marijuana.” Dr. Sesso has conducted clinical research on the dangers of marijuana and DUI.
John V. Cappello, DO, King of Prussia, PA, controls eight patents and has four patents pending related to adult stem cell circulation, stress relief, anti-aging and several other disease states. Dr. Cappello is also releasing a new patented product for cancer nutritional support this year that has improved cancer patient quality of life in field testing.
Jay S. Feldstein, DO, Gladwyne, PA, president and chief executive officer, PCOM, wrote an article for the Philadelphia Business Journal titled “Leading in a Crisis” (April 28, 2020) in which he outlined practices to effectively lead a team through a crisis like COVID-19. William P. Zipperer, Jr., DO, Mesa, AZ, retired after 25 years of practice in internal medicine
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
in Mesa, followed by eight years as medical director for Hospice of the Valley in the Phoenix area.
Michael J. Allshouse, DO, Kingsport, TN, joined East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and Niswonger Children’s Hospital as a pediatric surgeon. Joseph M. Kaczmarczyk, DO, Drexel Hill, PA, was named interim dean and chief academic officer of PCOM Georgia. He also co-authored an article published in the Journal of Patient Safety titled “To the Point: Integrating Patient Safety Education into the Obstetrics and Gynecology Undergraduate Curriculum” (April 2020).
Gregory R. Frailey, DO, Williamsport, PA, received the Robert D. Aranosian, DO, FACOEP Award for Excellence in EMS at the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians’ (ACOEP) Scientific Assembly in Austin, Texas, in November 2019. The award is given annually to a member of the ACOEP who has made contributions to the field of EMS that furthered the operation, teaching or development of the specialty through his or her actions, dedication and deeds. Dr. Frailey serves as medical director of Susquehanna Regional EMS and Prehospital Services, UPMC Susquehanna.
Joseph P. Olekszyk, DO, MSc ’90, Seaford, DE, was inducted into the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Physician Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes physicians who have served their communities with dedication and who have made significant contributions to the provision and improvement of health care in western Sussex County. Dr. Olekszyk has practiced otolaryngology for over 30 years in western Sussex County.
Neil J. Halin, DO, Newton, MA, was named a Top Doctor in interventional radiology by
Boston Magazine. Dr. Halin serves as interim chairman of radiology at Tufts Medical Center.
Laurence H. Belkoff, RES, Lafayette Hill, PA, was the recipient of the 2020 American Urological Association Residents and Fellows Committee Teaching Award. Dr. Belkoff is the program director of the Main Line Health Urology Residency Program and managing partner of the Urological Consultants of Southeastern Pennsylvania division of MidLantic Urology. Thomas P. Brown, DO, Fort Lauderdale, FL, published an article in the American Journal of Biomedical Science and Research titled “Protracted Symptoms After Heat Stroke: Is Vasopressin the Culprit?” (August 2019). Richard G. Evans, DO, Lewisberry, PA, was the subject of an article for the Central Penn Business Journal titled “Talking Sleep Disorders with Dr. Richard Evans, Doctor and Executive at PCCMA” (February 28, 2020). Dr. Evans is the president and chief executive officer of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Associates. John J. Moore, DO, Malvern, PA, is senior medical director for the Aetna Community Care Program for New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, a more robust form of case management through which nurses, social workers and educators see patients in the home and in acute and subacute settings. Daniel J. Parenti, DO, Philadelphia, PA, chair, department of internal medicine, PCOM, was interviewed for an article in Healthline titled “Why Experts Consider Vaping to Be Toxic Inhaling” (October 9, 2019). Dr. Parenti also commented on the dangers of vaping in a piece for the AOA titled “Nearly One in Ten Americans Who Vape (9%) Purchase Their Products from an Unauthorized Seller, According to Survey” (November 18, 2019).
Paul S. Zeitz, DO, Bethesda, MD, published a new book titled Waging Optimism: Ushering in a New Era of Justice in March 2020.
Dr. Zeitz was also interviewed for an article on the website Thrive Global titled “Five Things We Must Do to Inspire the Next Generation About Sustainability and the Environment” (February 17, 2020).
Joshua M. Crasner, DO, Marlton, NJ, was appointed to the board of trustees for Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice. Lisa A. Ferreira, DO, Jupiter, FL, joined FoundCare Pediatric North in West Palm Beach, an expansion of FoundCare, Inc., which seeks to provide high-quality health care to underserved neighborhoods.
Robert P. Finkelstein, DO, Bradenton, FL, is celebrating 15 years of private practice in Sarasota. David A. Forstein, DO, New York, NY, was elected to the executive committee of the Board of Trustees of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Joseph M. Garbely, DO, Royersford, PA, was recognized by Continental Who’s Who as a Pinnacle Lifetime Achiever in the field of addiction medicine and by the International Association of Who’s Who as one of America’s Most Influential Psychiatrists. Dr. Garbely serves as psychiatrist, chief medical officer, and executive VP of medical services at Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville. Anthony J. Orsini, DO, Windermere, FL, published a book titled It’s All in the Delivery: Improving Healthcare Starting with a Single Conversation. The book is published through West Essex Press and is available on Amazon and Kindle.
James C. Greenfield, DO, Frackville, PA, serves as the medical director of Cornerstone Coordinated Health Care in Frackville. Dr. Greenfield was interviewed about Cornerstone’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in an article for PA Homepage titled “Healthcare Provider in Schuylkill County Offering DriveThru Testing” (March 24, 2020).
Jill B. Cohen, DO, Plymouth Meeting, PA, was named a 2019 Top Doctor by Main Line Today. Dr. Cohen practices internal medicine at Great Valley Medical Associates in Paoli. Richard T. Jermyn, DO, Haddonfield, NJ, was the recipient of the 2019 American Osteopathic Foundation W. Douglas Ward, PhD, Educator of the Year Award. The award is one of the highest honors that the American Osteopathic Foundation bestows each year in recognition of an osteopathic teacher who continuously displays unwavering dedication to the tenets of osteopathic medicine and a true passion for passing those ideals on to future generations of DOs. Dr. Jermyn is a professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and is the director of Rowan Medicine’s NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute. Beth A. Magnifico, DO, Ellwood City, PA, joined Primary Health Network’s Ellwood City Health Center, providing pediatric and internal medicine services.
John B. Bulger, DO, MBA, Danville, PA, wrote an article for LinkedIn titled “20-year Reflections of NOM Week” (April 26, 2020) in which he discussed how osteopathic medicine has grown over his past two decades at Geisinger. Dr. Bulger serves as chief medical officer for Geisinger Health Plan. Troy M. Kerner, DO, Newtown, PA, joined BMC Medical Group at Lower Bucks Hospital as a general surgeon. Gerald V. Maloney, DO, Hanover Township, PA, was named associate dean of clinical affairs at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Dr. Maloney also serves as chief medical officer for Geisinger Hospitals. In his new role, Dr. Maloney serves as a liaison between the educational function and the clinical system at Geisinger. William H. Phillips, DO, New Albany, OH, joined Licking Memorial Health System as a vascular surgeon. Elizabeth A. Skinner, DO, New Hartford, NY, joined Mohawk Valley Health System’s
Whitesboro Medical Office as a family medicine physician.
David J. Addley, DO, Philadelphia, PA, was named a 2020 Top Doctor in cardiovascular medicine by Philadelphia Magazine. Hossein Borghaei, DO, King of Prussia, PA, joined the Scientific Advisory Board of Sonnet Bio Therapeutics Holdings, Inc.
Matthew D. Crago, DO, Hermitage, PA, served patients from the parking lot after many were afraid to visit his family practice during COVID-19. Dr. Crago’s efforts were featured in an article for the Herald titled “Doctor Is Seeing Patients in His Parking Lot—Even in the Rain” (April 22, 2020). Marc A. Greenstein, DO, Sandy Springs, GA, gave a talk on the history, philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine and served on a panel at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s Choose DO Medical School Expo in
David R. Robins, DO, Talbott, TN, joined U.S. Diabetes Care in Morristown. Dr. Robins is a board-certified orthopedic and spinal surgeon specializing in several inpatient and outpatient medical procedures, including robotic total knee and hip replacements, workers’ compensation injuries, shoulder surgeries, epidural steroid injections, radio frequency ablations and facet joint injections. Joseph W. Stauffer, DO, Skillman, NJ, was appointed chief medical officer of Antibe Therapeutics Inc.
Francis J. Lauro, RES, Pensacola, FL, joined Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute in Pensacola. Alan J. Shienbaum, DO, Bala Cynwyd, PA, is a board-certified pathologist in private practice at Pathology Associates of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Keystone Medical Laboratories.
THANK YOU, PCOM PILLARS VOLUNTEERS! Thank you to our alumni who donated their time by volunteering at, with or for the College during 2019–2020! Our devoted and caring alumni enrich the experiences of our students, faculty and staff in remarkable ways. Become a PCOM Pillar by volunteering to share your expertise through mentoring, speaking to student organizations, hosting events and more at alumni.pcom.edu/pillars.
SUBMIT A VIRTUAL EVENT IDEA While we’re not able to host large gatherings in person, we can get together virtually! Whether you’re interested in organizing a happy hour with classmates or hosting a webinar on a specific topic, we’ll help you select the right virtual platform and promote your event from start to finish. Submit your ideas at alumni.pcom.edu/events
November 2019 in Atlanta. One hundred seventy-two prospective students interested in learning more about the osteopathic medical profession attended the expo.
Robert A. McMurtrie, Jr., DO, Phoenixville, PA, was appointed chief medical officer of Phoenixville Hospital– Tower Health. Dr. McMurtrie is board-certified in anesthesiology and pain management. William J. Strimel, DO, Chesterbrook, PA, joined Jennersville Hospital–Tower Health’s Cardiology Associates.
Srinivas Sanka, DO, Tampa, FL, joined the medical staff of Access Health Care Physicians, LLC, in Spring Hill.
Joseph J. McComb, III, DO, Newtown Square, PA, was recently appointed vice chair for quality and performance improvement and associate professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine. Brian R. Shunk, DO, State College, PA, joined Mount Nittany Physician Group Internal Medicine at its Mount Nittany Health–Blue Course Drive location.
Christopher Cavallaro, MS/ Biomed, Lafayette Hill, PA, serves as the chief product 42
officer of Our Tribe LLC, a proprietary software-as-a-service platform that provides team relationship management capabilities that enable individuals and businesses working remotely to communicate and collaborate effectively by leveraging a familiar social media–style format.
William M. Jaffe, DO, Scottsdale, AZ, was appointed to the board of trustees for the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association. Sanjay Kamat, RES, Clarence, NY, joined Atwal Eye Care in Buffalo.
Richard J. Donlick, DO, Kayenta, AZ, was appointed acting director of clinical services at Kayenta Health Center, a part of the Indian Health Service. Patrick C. Kilduff, DO, Dallas, PA, was named medical director for Hospice of the Sacred Heart in Wilkes-Barre.
Sean McMillan, DO, Mullica Hill, NJ, was the subject of an article for the Cinnaminson Patch titled “Virtua Doctor Limits Opioid Prescriptions to Fight Addiction” (March 5, 2020).
Robert A. Bassett, DO, Philadelphia, PA, was featured in an article for Defense Visual Information Distribution Service titled “Media, Penn. Physician Serves on the Front Lines of Military COVID-19 Response” (May 23, 2020). Dr. Bassett is part of an Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Task Force that has been mobilized to Connecticut as part of the Department of Defense’s response to COVID-19. Janet Friedman, PsyD, Myrtle Beach, SC, retired as a school psychologist in 2010 and moved to Myrtle Beach, where she is enjoying resort life with her husband and newly acquired friends. Dr. Friedman has two grandchildren, Ryan and Maya. Michael E. Goldberg, DO, Rockville, MD, was appointed
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
chair of the Division of Gastroenterology at Einstein Healthcare Network. Dr. Goldberg previously served as associate chair of the Division of Gastroenterology. He is board-certified in gastroenterology and specializes in advanced therapeutic endoscopy. Johnny Lops, DO, Brooklyn, NY, is an associate producer of Spelling the Dream, an original Netflix documentary chronicling the Scripps National Spelling Bee that premiered on June 3. As a student at PCOM, Dr. Lops sustained an acting career and transitioned into producing films once he became an attending physician. Dr. Lops appeared as an expert therapist on the reality series “Married at First Sight” for one season. He practices psychiatry in Brooklyn. Dennis C. Slagle, II, DO, Jackson, TN, joined the Division of Neonatology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics.
Melissa A. DeWolfe, DO, Newport, OR, joined Samaritan Surgical Specialists in Newport as a general surgeon. Lauren C. Herchak, DO, Finleyville, PA, joined Heritage Valley Multispecialty Group Family Practice in Robinson Township. Erik G. Polan, DO, Moorestown, NJ, was interviewed for an article in The Healthy titled “18 Things Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Thyroid Problems” (December 10, 2019). Alvin N. Wang, DO, Penn Valley, PA, was the subject of an article in The Reporter titled “Montgomery County Regional EMS Director Highlights Importance of First Responders” (March 20, 2020).
Peter F. Bidey, DO, MSED, FACOFP, Haddonfield, NJ, was interviewed for an article for the AOA titled “How to Stay Healthy During Severe Flu Seasons,” (December 19, 2019). Dr. Bidey was also interviewed for an arti-
cle in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Doctors Worry ‘Extended Summer’ Could Worsen Childhood Obesity” (May 20, 2020). Desiree D’Angelo-Donovan, DO, Linwood, NJ, was named a 2020 Top 40 Under 40 by Atlantic City Weekly. Dr. D’AngeloDonovan is a general and breast surgeon with Premier Surgical Network in South Jersey. Jason A. Smith, DO, Sylvania, OH, began as part-time medical director for the Toledo–Lucas County Health Department on March 13, 2020. In addition to his new role, Dr. Smith is a sports medicine physician with Mercy Health.
Jessica Lee Balkema, DO, Pensacola, FL, was named the 2019 COMAT Clinical Item Writer of the Year by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners. Monique A. Gary, MS/Biomed ‘05, DO ‘09, Wyncote, PA, discussed ways that doctors adapted treatment for early-stage breast cancer during the COVID-19 outbreak in an article for Living Beyond Breast Cancer titled “Breast Surgery and Treatment Changes During the Coronavirus Outbreak” (April 2, 2020). She was the subject of a story on KYW Newsradio titled “Philly Doctor Says Ignorance of Cultural Bias Risks Making America Sicker” (April 23, 2020). In May, Dr. Gary was featured on the American Cancer Society’s social media for her advocacy efforts during COVID-19. Emily M. Gottlieb, DO, Bethesda, MD, was named a 2019 Top Doctor by the Washingtonian. Sabrina M. Sumner, DO, Port Matilda, PA, reflected on her 11 years in the U.S. Air Force in an article for statecollege.com titled “Serving Far From Home” (November 11, 2019).
Stephen M. Cox, DO, Dawsonville, GA, began a new position as a primary care physician at Wellstar Avalon Health Park in Alpharetta, GA. Casey Elizabeth Lafferty, DO, Melbourne, FL, serves as the
medical director for Health First Now Urgent Care clinics, associate medical director for Kindred Hospice and physician speaker for Genentech. Lee Jacob Neubert, DO, Melbourne, FL, joined Physician Partners of America’s practice in Melbourne, where he specializes in anesthesiology and pain management. Mark Francis Olaf, DO, Danville, PA, was named regional associate dean of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s Central Campus in Danville.
Amanda M. Fischer, DO, Kingston, GA, joined Floyd Primary Care in Rome. Kelly D. Ryan, DO, Baltimore, MD, was inducted into Marquis Who’s Who. Dr. Ryan is a primary care sports medicine physician with Medstar Health. She also serves as co-medical director for the Horsemen’s Health Program at Maryland race tracks, managing injuries from horse bites to kicks, falls and overuse injuries among employees, trainers, groomers and jockeys. Ebonie E. Vincent, MS/Biomed, Temecula, CA, stars on “My Feet Are Killing Me,” a reality TV series on TLC. The show follows Dr. Vincent, a foot and ankle surgeon at Orange County Podiatry in Irvine, and her colleague, Bradley Schaeffer, DPM, as they treat complicated and sometimes life-threatening podiatry cases.
Sophia C. Garcia, MS/FM, West Whiteland Township, PA, was appointed chief deputy coroner for Chester County. Ratnesh N. Mehra, DO, Fairfax Station, VA, performed the first neurosurgical procedure on a COVID-19 positive patient in Detroit. Dr. Mehra was interviewed about the experience for an article in Becker’s Spine Review titled “Why Dr. Ratnesh N. Mehra Performed Essential Neurosurgery on a Patient with COVID-19 and 10 Steps His Team Took to Stay Safe” (April 1, 2020).
Richard G. Allen, PsyD, Swedesboro, NJ, director, educational specialist program, PCOM, wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “How Opioid Addiction Affects Foster Care” (December 1, 2019). Dr. Allen was also featured on a podcast for Inside Higher Education, where he discussed how to train parents to serve as foster parents (February 7, 2020). Joseph M. Faccio, DO, Easton, PA, was named chief of emergency medicine at Easton Hospital in October 2019. Keith Stephen Fuleki, DO, Albion, NY, joined Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center as a family medicine physician. Scott D. Glassman, PsyD, Cherry Hill, NJ, associate director of MS in Mental Health Counseling, clinical associate professor, PCOM, wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “How Climate Change Affects Us Physically, Emotionally and Socially” (November 19, 2019). Dr. Glassman also wrote an article for LinkedIn titled “A Holiday Resilience ‘Toolkit’ Can Be the Perfect Gift to Yourself” (December 16, 2019). On February 3, 2020, Dr. Glassman was featured on a podcast for Inside Higher Education, where he discussed feeling good mentally and physically. Heidi Gonzalez, MS/ODL, Wynnewood, PA, was promoted to executive director of Adoptions from the Heart. Kathleen M. Henley, DO, Frankford, DE, was named the American College of Family Physicians’ 2020 Young Osteopathic Physician of the Year. In addition to Dr. Henley’s clinical duties, she serves as the utilization review and clinical documentation improvement physician advisor at Atlantic General Hospital and as the Maryland delegate on the board of trustees for the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Family Physicians Society. Michael F. Nordsiek, DO, Atlanta, GA, joined Advanced Urology, where he practices
out of the group’s Lawrenceville office and specializes in urologic oncology and general urology. Lisa K. O’Brien, DO, Harrisburg, PA, joined Coordinated Health’s Humboldt Station facility as an orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon.
Thea Gallagher, PsyD, Langhorne, PA, was featured in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Social Distancing Can Strain Mental Health. Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself” (March 19, 2020). Barbara J. Jones, DO, Duluth, GA, was featured on the “Strong Women in Medicine” podcast hosted by Candace Bellamy, MD, in January. Dr. Jones discussed choosing osteopathic medical school and how she balances working in medicine, media and modeling.
Thomas M. Lettich, DO, Danville, PA, received a clinical fellowship grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jennifer Minkovich, DO, Richboro, PA, was interviewed for an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “How Can I Get Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania During the Coronavirus Pandemic?” (April 10, 2020). Jonathan Mitchell, MS/PA, Malvern, PA, wrote two articles for Mind Body Green titled “Six Simple Things You Can Do to Stay Healthy While in Isolation” (March 2020) and “Exactly How This Functional Medicine Expert Avoids Getting Sick When He Travels” (November 2019). Mitchell is a certified physician assistant turned functional medicine health consultant.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE Theresa A. DiJoseph, MS/PA ’13, Springfield, PA, and her husband, Doug, welcomed a baby boy, Ryder William Shafer, on September 30, 2019. Casey Elizabeth Lafferty, DO ’10, Melbourne, FL, married Major Patrick Lookabaugh at the Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine on December 6, 2019. Dr. Lafferty serves as medical director for Health First Now Urgent Care clinics, associate medical director for Kindred Hospice and physician speaker for Genetech.
SEEKING ALUMNI TO SPEAK TO STUDENTS This summer, we’re launching our Virtual AlumniStudent Speaker Series. We will host one alumnus/ alumna each month to talk to groups of students about his/her career and professional journey. If you’re interested in speaking to students through a virtual platform like Zoom or Google Meet, email email@example.com with your program, specialty, and current job title. The series is open to all programs and campuses.
Richard M. Pescatore, II, DO, Sicklerville, NJ, was selected as one of the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association’s 45 Under 45 in 2019, selected out of more than 400 nominations. Jeffrey C. Stevens, DO, Haverford, PA, was named a 2020 Millennial Superstar by VISTA Today, an online news publication focusing on Chester County. He is a family medicine physician with Main Line HealthCare in Paoli. Dr. Stevens was one of 40 professionals under 40 recognized by VISTA for breaking down walls, shattering expectations and making Chester County a better place.
Kristina A. Cade, MS/Biomed, West Sacramento, CA, was
appointed medical director of Yolo Hospice in Davis. Michelle Gainty, DO, Fort Stewart, GA, wrote a column for Front Row Soccer titled “Former Monmouth Player Gainty on Being an OB/GYN During COVID-19” (May 1, 2020). Dr. Gainty is an OB/GYN at Winn Army Community Hospital. Matthew C. Ruppel, DO, Concord, NH, was the subject of an article for lohud.com titled “Ex-Sleepy Hollow Runner, Who Fought Cancer Three Times, Now ER Doctor in Coronavirus Battle” (April 16, 2020). Leonardo Taarea, DO, The Woodlands, TX, is a primary care and sports medicine physician at Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in The Woodlands.
Stephanie N. Bratton, DO, Easton, MD, joined Choptank Community Health in Maryland as a pediatrician at Denton Pediatrics and Easton Pediatrics Centers. Jessica Calandra, DO, Philadelphia, PA, will start a fellowship in brain injury medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania this summer. Jenna DiLossi, MS/CCHP ’11, PsyD, Philadelphia, PA, wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “What Netflix’s ‘Unbelievable’ Can Teach Us About Sexual Assault and PTSD” (October 9, 2019). Jessica A. Geida, DO, Millville, NJ, was featured in a Philadelphia Magazine article titled “Philly Health Experts Turn to Social Media to Fight
LOST ON THE FRONT LINES FRANK GABRIN, DO ’85 After treating patients with COVID-19 at East Orange General Hospital, New Jersey, Frank Gabrin, DO ’85, succumbed to the disease and passed away in his husband’s arms on March 31, 2020. He was the first frontline emergency room doctor in the United States known to have died of the illness. Dr. Gabrin was a fighter. He had survived cancer twice. And he had survived physician burnout, authoring one of the earliest books about the topic—and lending his experience to Medical Economics and The Pulse (the journal of the ACOEP). The following excerpt about Dr. Gabrin’s life is from a tribute written by Miriana Antenucci (MS/Biomed ’21) on behalf of the PCOM Oncology Club: Born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gabrin attended the University of Pittsburgh and then matriculated to PCOM, where he earned his medical degree in 1985. After his first post-graduate year of training in New York City, he went on to serve in the United States Navy Medical Corps and was honored with a Navy Achievement Medal. Dr. Gabrin spent most of his career in the emergency room. He also served as clinical professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University and Ohio State University. For a time, he was a volunteer physician for an HIV/AIDS intervention program at the Cleveland Free Clinic. Dr. Gabrin’s life changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. His two-time battle required testing, treatments, surgeries; it was filled with courage and fear. But it gave him a unique perspective as both a patient and physician. Dr. Gabrin drew from his cancer experience to write Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care (2013). He hoped to pave a path for fellow physicians to navigate professional burnout and to highlight a way to cope. Dr. Gabrin selflessly treated patients until his final days—in an understaffed emergency room, caring for the sickest of the sick. 44
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In those moments—like he always did—he combined his love for medicine, spiritual healing, and his unique understanding of being both a doctor and a patient. Dr. Gabrin’s passing is a profound loss to the PCOM community and to the profession—to his fellow alumni, to his past students and mentees. The PCOM Oncology Club commemorates this frontline hero who truly understood what it meant to be a physician: “I don’t hold any fancy titles and I am not the director of anything, but I can say that I have spent the last quarter of a century at the bedside of America’s sick, injured, intoxicated, impaired and disenfranchised.”
MICHAEL GERARD GIULIANO, DO ’81 A compassionate physician, dedicated husband, and loving father and grandfather, Michael Gerard Giuliano, DO ’81, passed away on April 18, 2020. He had been treating multiple patients for COVID-19, but was unable to overcome the virus himself. Dr. Giuliano had had a successful general and geriatrics practice in Nutley, New Jersey serving many generations of families for nearly 40 years. At all times, he had exemplified what it means to be an osteopathic physician, calling for and practicing compassionate patient care and gaining his patients’ trust through continuity of care and with a sense of humor. Dr. Giuliano was beloved by all. In a memorial tribute by members of his community, a bagpiper played outside his medical office as a procession of firetrucks and police cars filed by. The mayor and township commissioner—and patients—gathered on the front lawn to offer remembrances.
REMEMBERING MICHAEL RICHMOND WALKER, FORMER MEMBER OF THE PCOM BOARD OF TRUSTEES Michael Richmond Walker, founder of Genesis Healthcare, died on April 18, 2020, from a decade-long battle with frontotemporal dementia and complications from COVID-19. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He founded his Kennett Square–based company in 1985 and served as chairman and chief executive officer from 1985 to 2002. During that period, Genesis grew from a small portfolio of nine skilled nursing centers into a $2 billion publicly traded company with 40,000 Coronavirus Misinformation” (April 17, 2020). Dr. Geida is in the final year of her OBGYN residency and uses her Instagram account, @smilesandscrubs, to inspire other women to pursue careers in gynecology, dispel false health information, and share resources related to COVID-19. Emily A. Jacobs, DO, Wilton, ME, joined Franklin Memorial Hospital’s medical staff, working at Franklin Health Pediatrics and at the hospital’s Maternal and Child Health Unit. Dr. Jacobs provides inpatient care for newborns and children. Olivia M. Menardy, DO, Milford, DE, joined Bayhealth Primary Care as a family medicine physician. Shaun M. Najarian, DO, Norwalk, CT, joined Griffin Faculty Physicians as a primary care physician. David T. Russell, DO, Pine Grove, PA, joined Lehigh Valley Physicians Group Family Medicine– Pine Grove. Dr. Russell
joins his father, Richard Russell, DO ’78, who has practiced at that location for 40 years. Chelsea R. Ryan, DO, Knoxville, TN, joined CHI Memorial Medical Group’s Integrative Medicine Associates–Signal Mountain as a family physician.
Joseph C. Sharp, DO, Knob Noster, MO, was named Air Force Flight Surgeon of the Year by Air Force Global Strike Command for his innovative ideas, techniques and dedication to dynamic patient care. Dr. Sharp is a flight surgeon with the 509th Medical Group from Whiteman Air Force Base. He is the only physician in his installation to offer osteopathic manipulation. Danielle M. Peters, DO, New Hope, PA, was featured in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled, “Three Lessons These Doctors Learned in Caring for COVID-19 Patients” (May 7, 2020). Dr. Peters is a third-year
employees nationwide, through the acquisition of nursing homes, rehabilitation therapy, diagnostic testing, respiratory therapy, and pharmacy. He was also the founder and chairman of the board of trustees of ElderTrust and the founder of Health Group Care Centers, the predecessor to HCR Manor Care. Mr. Walker led the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a multi-facility trade organization focused on advocacy and political involvement. Mr. Walker served on the PCOM Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2005.
resident in the family medicine residency program at Abington Jefferson Health.
Robert M. Lynagh, DO, Billings, MT, was named to the Billings Gazette’s 2020 Forty Under 40. Dr. Lynagh is a neurosurgeon at St. Vincent Healthcare. Kelly-Ann Peters, MS/PA-C, Gainesville, GA, and Katie Jo Wacker, MS/PA-C, Gainesville, GA, were featured in an article in the Gainesville Times titled “Milo has Heartworms and Needed Someone to Take Care of Him. These 2 Physician Assistants Stepped in” (May 8, 2020). Peters and Wacker, who live in the same apartment complex and work at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, fostered a dog together during COVID-19. Danielle M. Ward, DO, Roswell, GA, was interviewed by CBS46 in Atlanta on January 7 about how to prevent and treat the flu. Dr.
Ward also recently published her first book titled Atypical Premed: A Non-Traditional Student’s Guide to Applying to Medical School. The book is available at major book retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Evan R. Gooberman, DO, Philadelphia, PA, and Morgan Katz, DO, Philadelphia, PA, were featured in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled, “Three Lessons These Doctors Learned in Caring for COVID19 Patients” (May 7, 2020). Drs. Gooberman and Katz are interns in the Abington-Jefferson Family Medicine Residency Program. Margaret A. Vido, DO, Allentown, PA, competed in the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February in Atlanta. Dr. Vido was featured in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Olympic Hopefuls from the Hospital: How 7 Philly-Area Healthcare Pros Made the US Marathon Trials” (January 20, 2020).
IN MEMORIAM Michael I. Abraham, DO ’66, Lafayette Hill, PA, April 28, 2020 Berel B. Arrow, DO ’66, Marlton, NJ, February 13, 2020 Jerome L. Axelrod, DO ’47, Bala Cynwyd, PA, May 1, 2020 Lawrence J. Barbour, DO ’62, Roswell, NM, January 29, 2020 Raymond R. Beatty, DO ’80, Lebanon, PA, March 11, 2020 Joseph Berger, DO ’58, Cherry Hill, NJ, January 11, 2020
Donald A. Bruaw, DO ’61, Enola, PA, April 5, 2020 Richard M. Couch, DO ’54, Lecanto, FL, October 6, 2019 Eugene M. DiMarco, DO ’84, Egg Harbor Township, NJ, May 7, 2020 Lorraine G. Finelli, DO ’82, Ambler, PA, April 6, 2020 William E. Gibbons, DO ’15, Downingtown, PA, February 26, 2020
Dudley W. Goetz, DO ’70, Southlake, TX, July 15, 2019 Jerry F. Gurkoff, DO ’75, Corsicana, TX, March 18, 2020 Christine A. Jenkins, PsyD ’04, Reading, PA, April 9, 2020 James R. Lucie, DO ’55, Austin, TX, March 3, 2020 Helen Quigley McGroarty, RN ’47, Burnt Hills, NY, April 1, 2019 Morris Y. Mintz, DO ’63, Coconut Creek, FL, April 10, 2020
Carl Mogil, DO ’68, Ardmore, PA, May 20, 2020 William M. Purner, Jr., DO ’73, Glen Mills, PA, March 14, 2020 Edward P. Rock, DO ’67, West Chester, PA, April 13, 2020 Edwin A. Schuller, Jr., DO ’76, Chadds Ford, PA, December 23, 2019 Mark Sluhocki, DO ’81, Williamsport, PA, April 22, 2020 Richard K. Snyder, DO ’56, Allentown, PA, February 28, 2020
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As a way to express solidarity and thanks to essential workers, especially our healthcare heroes and first responders, PCOM is shining blue. The lights are part of a nationwide effort to show support. Blue light represents calm, faith and trust, and helps elevate mood during a time of uncertainty.