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06:33 AM

On the COVID-19 Front Lines With Cedars-Sinai Residents and Fellows

Medicine Takes on New Meaning for Early-Career Physicians

COVID-19 Front Lines: Jack Aguilar, MD

"I Would Describe it as a Time Where We Came Together" 

Cedars-Sinai medical residents recently recorded video diaries to document their experiences caring for COVID-19 patients.

Their experiences are unforgettable, they say, mainly because patients with COVID-19 are among their first patients since completing medical school and coming to Cedars-Sinai to further their medical training under the supervision of experienced physicians.

"Being on the ICU team taking care of patients with COVID has been both stressful and exciting," said Jack Aguilar, MD, a Cedars-Sinai Internal Medicine resident. "We're learning so much about the disease process every day, and we're constantly hearing updates about treatments that work and don't work."

In his downloadable video diary, Aguilar said that both new and experienced physicians still have a lot to learn about the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and treating patients requires an open mind because anything he observes in a patient could be a new sign or symptom of the disease.

"But despite the difficult times, I feel like I would describe it as a time where we came together and tried to put our fear aside and help people who are in need and sick," he said.

COVID-19 Front Lines: Angelena Lopez, MD

"I Hope I'm Going to Describe it as a Once-in-a-Lifetime Event"

Like Aguilar, Angelena Lopez, MD, a Pulmonary Critical Care Fellow, is busy these days conquering fear.

She says she encounters patients who are particularly worried about having a tube inserted into their airway to assist them in breathing– a necessary procedure for some of the hardest-hit COVID-19 patients.

"Before I go in and talk to patients about needing to be intubated or have the breathing tube in, I try to mentally prepare myself to anticipate the questions that I think that they're going to ask," Lopez said in her video diary. "I think I try to prepare myself to be very calm because I feel like if I show any bit of anxiety or uncertainty, it's just going to exacerbate what they're feeling."

Lopez said that while a pandemic is something she and her colleagues are prepared for, she never imagined that she'd find herself in the middle of one.

"When I look back at this time in my life in my career, I think and I hope I'm going to describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime event," she said.

"I think probably the effects of it that are going to stay with me the longest are not necessarily the medical parts of it, or the medical manifestations of it, but more this sense that when we want to accomplish something as a healthcare team--as a medical system-- if we all work together, and we all recognize the value and utility that each of us bring to the table, we're capable of so much," Lopez said.