Temple ID COVID Experience - 2020
Rafik Samuel, MD
"During the pandemic I have been involved with COVID 19 patients in a variety of ways. I participated in direct care on the COVID floors, which was an amazing collaboration of different specialists from pulmonary to ID to dermatology to surgery. That created an amazing team spirit and actually great experience for all of us. The ID faculty has been the COVID czar where we are answering all questions related to testing and evaluation of patients that may have COVID. I have also been a major part of creating policies at Temple related to testing for outpatient procedures and removal of isolation in the hospital."
Thomas Fekete, MD, MACP
"The world changed radically because of the coronavirus pandemic, and ID doctors here at Temple were at the heart of it. From the beginning, I saw my ID colleagues leap into action on the relevant hospital committees and task forces. Each medical decision was passed by one of us. We had daily calls to reflect what was new in science and in the practical realities of infection prevention, testing and PPE. While I was personally busy as Chair of Medicine, I tried to pitch in as an ID doctor to balance the total workload. I was not scheduled for direct COVID floor duties, but I did put in two weeks as teaching attending on the inpatient medicine service to relieve hospitalists for COVID duty. During the height of coronavirus admissions, Temple was enrolling at least one-half of the patients into clinical trials of medications with potential immune toxicities and I was doing several virtual ID consults per day. Our overall service was running well over 200% capacity and all of us were engaged in multiple tasks. I was also in the role as “COVID czar” taking calls day and night to help with the disposition of patients in the hospital and permitting testing (with our limited test supplies) or guiding patients with uncertain COVID clinical features but not yet tested to the COVID pavilion vs. staying in the main hospital."
Brionna Matt, DO
"I think one of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic has been having to make decisions based on limited to no data. Many times I was asked reasonable questions by colleagues and would have to admit that we just don’t know the answer to that question yet. Knowing that I was making decisions that could potentially put my colleagues at risk, for things like exposure to the illness, was a heavy burden to carry. As a physician I want to have evidence behind my decision and be able to confidently explain my reasoning. That was not always possible during the pandemic. At the same time, it was also incredible the amount of information we did know about this novel virus. In just a few short months we were almost drowning in data. It felt like what we knew about the virus was changing every hour. This pandemic taught me to become more comfortable with the unknown, to be willing to change my recommendations based on new information and to appreciate even more the amazing community of physicians I am a part of."
Heather Clauss, MD
"I have to start by saying that I have never been prouder of my Temple ID family than I was March-June, 2020. Every single member of the section—both fellow and faculty—stepped up in the most impressive of ways. As ID Fellowship Program Director, I tried to balance the burden felt by our fellows, who staffed a virtual COVID consult service in addition to the usual inpatient consult services, with experience and involvement in almost every decision we made collectively to help guide the Temple University Hospital administration. I don’t think any of them started their fellowship expecting to serve in the pandemic of their young career. From quickly building note templates, to creating, sharing, and updating a repository of COVID related data (that was flying into print at unprecedented speeds), to teaching our Medicine housestaff, to planning logistics of a blood drive, I can honestly tell you that the teamwork, grit, and resilience shown by all of our fellows was second to none. In my role as Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, I need to also share that our Temple ID faculty selflessly contributed over an extra year’s worth of hours, serving collectively on 9 hospital COVID committees, staffing 4 attending only COVID virtual consult services, and answering everyone’s at times anxious questions with calmness and respect in the most thorough manner possible. We also began 24/7 attending-only COVID “czar” coverage (which we still continue to this day), in an attempt to keep our fellows as free as possible to learn and process all that has happened—to our hospital, to our city, and especially to our beloved vulnerable patients of North Philadelphia who were hardest hit by the pandemic. There is no one I would’ve rather gone through these past 4 months with, no other institution’s ID team and no other humans than the Temple ID family."
Aaron D. Mishkin, MD
One of my main COVID responsibilities is working with the transplant teams to determine if it is safe to perform a transplant. During the height of COVID activity Temple performed a limited number of transplants, these transplants proceeded with close guidance from myself and other members of the ID section. As local COVID-19 activity decreased it was important to have a phased plan with additional testing and safety measures in place which I helped to design. I also drafted patient and discharge instructions for all patients, and helped the EPIC teams to integrate updated order sets for COVID testing and isolation. With regards to clinical care I worked as a COVID hospitalist and continue to staff in person and virtual COVID consults. I’ve also been giving a lecture on clinical characteristics of COVID-19 for the medical students.
Fellow COVID Role - Jacquie Burnell, MD
"It was amazing to hear about the team work occurring throughout the hospital- work that culminated in converting every available inch of Boyer into space for patients. I had heard from my friends in New York about their experiences with their surge, and it made me thankful we had time to prepare and knew how serious the situation would become. I went back on service, expecting to be able to digest all these changes but was wrong. Walking through the newly converted building was like walking into another facility; it was unrecognizable. There were staggering changes made on each floor which overwhelmed me both with admiration at the immense amount of man power required to enact plans I had only heard about on Zoom meetings, and helplessness at the hands of this virus. I know understand what the sign prominently displayed in the entrance of Boyer, #Templestrong, really denotes, which is adaptability, creative solutions, leadership and teamwork. All in the name of protecting and caring for our community. I have never been more excited to join the faculty in infectious diseases then now."
In addition, there were several other adjustments including:
- Telemedicine consults on COVID patients
- Evaluation of literature and guidebook for other house staff
- Giving journal club on important COVID articles for internal medicine residents