The COVID-19 crisis challenged doctors everywhere to be innovative and create new and different ways to practice medicine. In this bonus episode of Vital Signs, we hear from NYU Langone doctors who describe major triumphs as well as major stresses they experienced during the pandemic.
Eduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDS, director of NYU Langone’s Face Transplant Program, performed a groundbreaking face and double hand transplant for 22-year-old Joe DiMeo, who had extensive burns over his body after a rollover car accident. Dr. Rodriguez was in the middle of practicing for the surgery when the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic, forcing him to switch gears. “Although Joe was not our primary attention, he was still in the back of my mind.” As COVID-19 numbers decreased in New York, Dr. Rodriguez and his team got back to preparing for the marathon operation. He describes in detail the intricacies of performing the first-of-its-kind double transplant during this challenging time.
Otolaryngologist Sean O. McMenomey, MD, found a silver lining for some patients with hearing loss during the pandemic. With video visits, he was able to take advantage of the virtual visit room. “It’s hard to know if a patient has an ear infection on a video visit, but for patients with cochlear implants and hearing impairment in general, it’s been fantastic because we don’t have to wear a mask, and they can also have family members—as many family members as they want—in the room with them, helping them take notes or ask additional questions.”
Dr. Gabby Mayer, who sped up her graduation to help care for patients with COVID-19, is wrapping up her first year of residency at NYU Langone Health. As she advances in her career, the way she practices medicine will always be influenced by her experience during the pandemic. “COVID has taught me that I love teaching and I love learning. And it’s really, for me, sparked what was already a strong love for education.”