Stories of Michigan Medicine on the Front Lines
“Walking into the hospital main entrance this AM, I saw a special thing. A family was waiting for their loved one outside the hospital. Flowers and banners were in hand. One read, ‘Congrats on beating #COVID’ and another ‘Welcome Home Dad.’ The joy and love was palpable.”
Vineet Chopra, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine, tweeted these words on April 21. The number of COVID-19 patients at Michigan Medicine had peaked, the curve had flattened, and a slow downward trend had begun.
Chopra’s knack for finding the bright spots in dark times also emerged two weeks earlier, in the form of a tweet that inspired followers near and far: I walked a patient out of the hospital today. They were being discharged after 17 days in the hospital with #COVID19. When I met them, we were talking about #ecmo. Today — we were talking about friends and family. That’s the story, people. That’s the story.
Yet he knows better than anyone that the full story of COVID-19 at Michigan Medicine was marked by highs and lows, painful deaths and surprising recoveries. Chopra was one of the faculty and staff members who were on the front line of the health system’s response to the pandemic. He treated patients when providers were still learning what symptoms people who had COVID-19 presented with. He saw patients young and old, and those who were fellow physicians, nurses, and other health care workers.
While the entire world was trying to catch its breath, providers at Michigan Medicine treated patients who needed to be transferred from overflowing Detroit hospitals. They prepared an infectious containment unit within days. Providers and other employees worked with people from all parts of the hospital, with all the usual divides knocked down for the sake of expediency and finding the best way to treat people, right here, right now, and without a moment to spare.
Here, we tell some of their stories.
Author(s): Katie Whitney and Katie Vloet