COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Issue: April 2020
Disclosures: Galatz reports no relevant financial disclosures.
April 03, 2020
2 min read
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Orthopedic surgeons must band together in this pandemic

Issue: April 2020
Disclosures: Galatz reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Leesa M. Galatz

COVID-19 — It is all we’ve heard for the past several weeks. First it was a problem in another country. Now it is in our front yard, across the street, all over the hospital and in my elevator. The United States has the largest number of COVID-19 infections in the world and I am living and working in the epicenter. Its impact is evident. We have contracted our ambulatory practice. Elective cases are in last month’s memory. Our medical and emergency colleagues are stretched thin, working unbelievable hours, in risky conditions. They report stories of hardship and patient suffering. Medical doctors from a multitude of subspecialties have mobilized to enter the hospital to help manage the growing numbers of patients. Those with critical care experience are working nonstop to handle the sickest among them.

Stories of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages strike fear and frustration in all medical professionals across the country, as we have a right to be protected while providing care for all those in need. We worry for ourselves and our families. Yet, I have watched our orthopedic physician assistants, residents and medical assistants bravely answer the call to help on the medical floors, in the ICU and in the emergency room (ER). As the peak approaches, the need for our help grows as the crisis strains available manpower. While the number of cases rise in the ER, the demand for orthopedic care has nearly stopped. Last week, in one of our busiest ERs there were a total of 10 patients who visited with musculoskeletal injuries. The time has come to reach deep inside for our best selves and support our struggling colleagues. It is true, we may not work in the ER or on a medicine floor on a daily basis, but we can recognize hypoxia, help patients FaceTime their families and act as interns for hospitalists.

There are some positives in all of this. Many have spent more time with families. Communication through virtual means has led to stronger connections with remote friends. Our planet has had a moment to reset, as air and water quality has improved in many areas. A COVID-19 infection for most of us will present with mild or moderate symptoms. The numbers of patients treated and released is also growing every day. Supply chains for masks and other PPE are opening. However, no one should deny the gravity of the situation. The end of rising cases will come, but we are not near that yet. We are highly intelligent, compassionate physicians, and we learn better and faster than anyone else. The time has come when the world needs us to open our hearts, and to ask what we can do. Together, we can impact this crisis by rolling up our sleeves and offering support to the front lines in whatever way we can. As orthopedic surgeons, our response during this difficult time will define us and influence our place in medicine in the post-pandemic world.

For more information:

Leesa M. Galatz, MD, can be reached at Mount Sinai Hospital, 50 East 98th St., New York, NY 10029; email: leesa.galatz@mountsinai.org.

Disclosure: Galatz reports no relevant financial disclosures.