"Every decision we make is for the safety of our patients and each other”
On March 13, Denver anesthesiologist Dr. Adam Weingart started feeling sick. His fever spiked, he developed a cough and experienced profound fatigue. “I had never felt that wiped out,” he says. “I knew I had been exposed to COVID-19 outside of the hospital so I self-quarantined, spent the next two weeks working from home and slowly recovered.”
As soon as it was safe for him to return to work, Dr. Weingart went in for his first 12-hour shift of the pandemic. With elective and non-emergent surgeries on hold, anesthesiologists saw a reduction in surgical demand but there was still much work to be done. “It was the scariest 12 hours of my life. On top of the fear of my own mortality, I just didn’t know what to expect walking into work that day,” he says.
Knowing he was somewhat protected by having fought the virus, Dr. Weingart pushed fear aside and hit the ground running alongside colleagues in the Emergency Room and critical care divisions. Dr. Weingart and a group of critical care providers became known as “the airway team,” responsible for all intubations and central lines. They stepped up and served where they were needed most to ensure the hospital could continue providing safe care.
As more information became available about the risk of aerosolized particles, Dr. Weingart and his team ramped up safety protocols to ensure everyone who entered the hospital was safe. They went straight into information gathering mode to stay current on best practices and coordinate efforts with the hospital system.
It has taken a global effort to get to a point where things can start returning to normal. Although Dr. Weingart acknowledges that for everyone, “normal” is now different.
“I haven’t felt that much tension at work since my first week of interning after medical school,” he says. “But we went into medicine to help people and to promote a healthier environment for everyone.”