On any list of coronavirus heroes, front line medical personnel stand at the top.
Dr. Aaron Hultgren is one of them. And he’s one of ours.
A football and lacrosse player at Swarthmore College, he taught pre-K at a Quaker school in Philadelphia, then earned a master’s in teaching from Brown University.
He taught K-5 science at a private school in Providence. But he’d always wanted to be a doctor. He switched careers, and was accepted into Georgetown’s Medical School Class of 2006.
While there he developed a “Mini Medical School” program — focusing on the human body and careers in medicine — for children in the Washington area.
Aaron did his residency in emergency medicine at NYU/Bellevue, then a public health fellowship in international medicine at Columbia University, where he received his master’s in public health. During that training, he traveled several times to Ghana, for hospital work.
He is now an assistant professor and mentor for NYU medical students. He travels often to Thailand — where his wife Patra’s family is from — to do medical rotations, and continues to teach about the human body to New York City students.
Aaron, Patra and their 3 young children moved to Westport 8 years ago. He enjoys playing lacrosse, skiing, rock climbing, hiking at Earthplace, and going to Norwalk Aquarium and the Peabody Museum with his kids; gardening, and kite flying, paddle boarding and searching for natural treasures at Compo Beach.
But for the past 2 months, he has not done any of that.
As an ER doctor at Bellevue, he’s stayed in New York. First he was in a hotel; now he’s at an NYU dorm.
It scarcely matters. He’s seldom there.
Aaron is scheduled for 8-hour shifts. He’s taken on many more — as well as other duties, like tele-medicine — since the coronavirus struck.
So much happens every day. Even the emergency room has changed. They’re in makeshift spaces, since part of where they worked has been converted to an ICU.
At the height of the crisis, Aaron saw 20 to 30 patients per shift. Many had lower oxygen levels than he’d ever seen. And they stayed on ventilators much longer than usual.
Aaron says that one positive outcome is increased collaboration between physicians in different departments. Everyone helps everywhere; it’s all hands on deck.
And our neighbor, Dr. Aaron Hultgren, is in the middle of it all.
Thank you to you — and your countless colleagues — for all you do for all of us, every day. You are truly Unsung Heroes.
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hat tip: Sandra Long)
This is really a war and Dr. Hultgren with other health care workers and first responders is on the front line to protect and save us. Thank you.
Thank you for bringing us these mini-bios of such dedicated people, Dan. They’re heartwarming and inspiring.
Dan- Thank you for posting this unsung hero- Dr Aaron Hultgren.
Dr Hultgren is truly an unseen silent hero. He, his nursing and medical colleagues staffing ERs are the ones bearing the brunt of this war on COVID19- fought on behalf of all of us.
It is hard to imagine almost every patient coming into an emergency room coughing, unable to catch their breathe or feeling the worst they have ever felt in their lives with oxygen levels that will not sustain life for long. Dr Hultgren’s patients are chosen from among all of us, at random, in could include our grandparents, parents, spouses and even some of our children. He will have to treat them with oxygen, Tylenol, intubation and CPR- all in the ER.
We don’t see that war.
We see the walls of our homes, watch our TVs, go for drives to no where, order food to be delivered to our houses or maybe reluctantly shop for food wearing masks and maintaining social distances.
The least we should do to back up today’s unsung hero Dr Aaron Hultgren is to try to keep the casualties (anyone of us) in this war as low as possible by doing our part- wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands a lot.
Thank you, Dr. Hultgren. Your selfless dedication to those in need is greatly appreciated.
Absolutely a real hero from Westport! Excellent article Dan!
Thanks Dan, nice article, lot of hero’s amidst this pandemic. Unfortunately where I live north of San Francisco, there are many people who don’t take this virus seriously, and are just upset that the are being told by a liberal Governor to Shelter in Place.
Thank you , Dan Hultgren. I now understand more of why your children are the curious, kind, and loving people that they are. We are very fortunate to have both you and Patra as KHS parents.