Anesthesiologists are playing a vital, and in many ways, new role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and many Allied Anesthesiologists are on the frontlines of that fight.
While anesthesiologists are most often associated with managing pain and safely putting patients to sleep during surgeries, today, many are working to keep patients alive and healthy in the fight against COVID-19 infections. Most often, this happens in two critical ways: working to keep patients off ventilators when possible by managing the delivery of lifesaving oxygen, and intubating patients when necessary to deliver lifesaving treatment from ventilators.
Of course, Allied Anesthesiologists have earned a reputation for going above and beyond, and the COVID-19 crisis is no exception. We’ve been leading the charge to form policies and procedures at all the hospitals we serve at, to help fight the pandemic, and to protect our patients and the healthcare workers we work side-by-side with every day.
At CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, our anesthesiologists have helped to arrange COVID-19 testing for all surgical patients, and at St. Joseph’s and St. Jude’s, we created policies that included ways to safely resterilize n95 masks during critical PPE shortages.
In more normal times, Dr. Jas Singh is the chief of cardiothoracic anesthesia at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Apple Valley. Since early April, Dr. Singh has been leading the hospital’s COVID-19 response in the ICU. Besides managing COVID-19 patients, Dr. Singh has been helping the hospital address challenges that no hospital has faced before, in a rapidly evolving pandemic.
As information came in from anesthesiologists around the world dealing with COVID-19 patients, Dr. Singh worked with his colleagues to develop and evolve the most effective protocols for confronting the disease. That has meant everything from managing the delivery of lifesaving oxygen to finding sources of convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease to deliver antibodies to COVID-19 patients.
Fighting a largely unknown disease with a limited toolset, challenging conditions and a real personal risk of infection is no small task. As Dr. Singh said in an email to colleagues, “the past weeks have been very hard, physically and emotionally. We are literally writing the playbook on a daily basis.”
Still, even in a crisis, there are lighter moments that remind us that we’re all in this together. Like the other week, when an 11-year-old Boy Scout named Matthew raised $150 to bring pizza to the St. Mary’s ICU nurses, and the local Pizza Factory added an extra five pies to say thanks to the healthcare providers who are providing care in our region.
As we all experience challenges related to the pandemic, we’d like to take a moment to thank all the healthcare providers who are working in physically and emotionally challenging conditions, and putting themselves at risk to confront COVID-19.
Thank you for all that you do.