Resident physicians step up in battle against COVID-19

Resident physicians step up in battle against COVID-19

Before the emergence of COVID-19, Drs. Vasudha Jain and Anthony Germinaro had hoped to travel to Uganda to offer care. Instead, they found themselves on the front lines of the pandemic.

Before the emergence of COVID-19, resident physicians Drs. Vasudha Jain and Anthony Germinaro had hoped to travel to Uganda to offer care. Instead, they found themselves on the front lines of a pandemic.

They hoped to punctuate their medical training with a trip to care for people in Uganda.
Instead, they’ve found themselves on the front lines of a worldwide pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak has altered lives across the globe in myriad ways. For the first graduating class of the Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program, it has upended expectations for the final months of their three-year residency training and provided a type of real-world experience they never expected.
“This is a difficult situation in so many ways, and it’s not something anyone would want to have happen,” said Dr. Vasudha Jain, co-chief resident physician. “From the perspective of our training, I think it will ultimately make us better physicians and help prepare us for something like this if it were to happen again.”

Change in plans

Dr. Jain was among three residents in the seven-member charter class who had hoped to make the trip to Uganda before completing their residency training in June. As COVID-19 spread, those hopes were dashed, as were plans for a formal graduation ceremony. Instead, the residents are doing what they’ve trained to do – caring for patients in the local community.

Dr. Michael Malone, director of the residency program, said he’s been extremely impressed with how resilient and adaptable the residents have been in the face of the pandemic.
“They have not only agreed to help, but they really sought out the opportunity,” Dr. Malone said. “Some of them volunteered to work weekends they were off and help in the critical care units.
“They’ve stepped up and responded without evening being asked.”

'Everyone has a role to play'

Dr. Anthony Germinario, co-chief resident physician, said the program’s residents and attending physicians are working closely together. The residency program, which will welcome its fourth class of residents in July, enrolls eight newly graduated physicians each year to begin three years of residency training at Tidelands Health.
“In times of a pandemic, everyone has a role to play in how we face this thing,” Dr. Germinario said. “From a medical standpoint, we are doing the best we can taking care of our patients.

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“It’s pretty remarkable to watch so many different providers from so many different specialties work seamlessly together to face this virus.”
Drs. Jain and Germinario said the community’s support for the health system during the pandemic has made a lasting impression they will carry with them throughout their careers.
At first, Dr. Jain said, she was concerned that family members of hospital patients would be frustrated by visitor restrictions put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Instead, patients’ loved ones have been understanding and offered words of support when Dr. Jain has updated them via phone on their loved one’s condition.

Plans for the future

Both she and Dr. Germinario said they have been buoyed by the community’s tremendous response to the health system’s N95 respirator sewing initiative, the near-constant food donations, the thousands of thank you cards and the multiple expressions of support by area churches that have taken place in the parking lots of Tidelands Health hospitals.
“I think it lightens up everyone’s spirits at a time when it’s easy to get a little disheartened,” Dr. Germinario said. “Having the community support us like that is really powerful.”
As for their trip to Uganda, there will be time for that in the future, the residents know.
“It was something we were looking forward to, but later on in our careers there is ample opportunity for that,” Dr. Jain said. “Right now, we need to be here for the community and our patients.”

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