COVID-19 Update from Dr. Smith: 3/31/20

Each day during the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Craig Smith, Chair of the Department of Surgery, sends an update to faculty and staff about pandemic response and priorities. Stay up to date with us.

Dear Colleagues,

The 10:00 NYP broadcast this morning gave a nice example of the gratitude that surrounds our efforts. Yesterday four NYP squad cars, lights flashing, circled the entrance of the Allen Pavilion as a prelude to delivering free pizza for everyone on duty inside. Note that 15% of the first-responders in our city are infected. Some of the challenges we faced two weeks ago are being reduced. PPE is clearly in better supply, enough that plans for resterilization of N95s is on hold. NYP is working towards a plan to provide laundered scrubs for everyone in the front-lines. All parking is now free (never thought I’d see the day). PCR testing for virus is still subject to resource limitations, but serum testing for antibody should begin this week. Bright Horizons is cancelling all other day care in our region in order to focus exclusively on the children of first-responders and health care providers. One of our surgeons has three highly educated young adult children sequestered at home. Picture that! The children are offering their services for home-schooling. That is a very generous and creative derivative of a situation that cannot be unique to that family.

Moving casually around the public spaces at CUIMC today the atmosphere feels calm. “Calm” is not a word that describes the frightening scenes in our ICUs, so this is not the calm before the storm. For a better metaphor imagine being part of an expedition paddling downstream on a vast and unexplored river. Tornadic rapids have been surmounted, torrential rain has been tolerated, blisters are healing, loss of life has been acceptable, all consistent with the plan. We got this. But what about that faint roar ahead? This is my sense of our status quo today. But like “calm,” “status quo” is the wrong term for something none of us have ever experienced, for which there is no map, no algorithm, no Bloomberg Box. What everyone has done to get us to this point of preparedness is breathtaking, and makes us all infinitely proud, but it is horribly precarious. The faint roar ahead is the steady, steady upward slope of the new-case curve. Making rounds today I crossed paths with one of our surgery resident SWAT teams. They project energy, optimism, and resolve...we got this. And they do; may we all got what’s ahead.

Craig R. Smith, MD
Chair, Department of Surgery
Surgeon-in-Chief, NYP/CUIMC


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