Behind the Shield: The fight is not yet over
I am an internal medicine resident at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, New York. I graduated from UT Health San Antonio’s Long School of Medicine in 2018.
As part of my training in the internal medicine residency program, I have worked in both the hospital’s emergency room and on the inpatient floors upstairs. To meet the rapidly increasing number of patients being admitted, our hospital increased its ICU capacity by over threefold and implemented numerous new inpatient teams to have enough staffing for all patients. With these changes, my internal medicine colleagues and I have worked together with residents from other specialties including psychiatry, radiation oncology and ophthalmology. We have all united under the common causes to care for COVID-19 patients and provide support for them and their concerned loved ones. I met nurses and other medical staff who came to help us from other states, who graciously and professionally assisted us in caring for our COVID-19 patients while also having to learn the inner workings of a different hospital system.
Despite the increases in teams and beds, there would still be patients in the emergency room that would need to stay there until beds were ready upstairs. I was tasked not only with seeing and stabilizing new patients that presented to the emergency room, but also to take care of the patients already admitted to the hospital but who had not yet left the emergency room.
As I’ve worked upstairs on the inpatient floors, one of my primary responsibilities has been to identify patients that need a higher level of care and to determine the next best course of action when their clinical conditions worsen, often from acute hypoxic respiratory failure. In these situations, I credit the rigorous training I received from UT Health San Antonio, especially from the internal medicine department staff. The faculty there taught me unforgettable lessons on how to calmly work through these often critical and tense situations.
My hospital has discharged over 500 COVID-19 patients so far. Yet while the numbers of newly hospitalized and admitted COVID-19 patients have come down, our fight is not yet over.
Tiffany Won-Shau Chen, MD
Long School of Medicine, Class of 2018
Internal Medicine Resident, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital
New York, NY