In the early days of the pandemic, New York hospitals were scrambling.
Unsure how to fight COVID-19, they were overwhelmed by patients. Some were being treated in temporary tents. Doctors had to get out of their comfort zones, and help.
At Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, administrators asked department chairs to free as many residents and attendings as possible to serve on coronavirus floors.
Director of neuroradiology Dr. Evan Stein jumped in to help. Radiologists are not experts on an infectious, airborne disease. Yet the situation was dire.
Stein reworked his schedule, operating his department with as few doctors as he could. He partnered across disciplines to do things they’d been asked before.
His message to his staff was simple: The hospital and community need our help. We must do whatever we can.
And not just residents. “I made it clear that I would ask our attendings and technologists to step up in ways we’d never asked them to before,” he says.
Stein knows how to solve problems. At Staples High School, the 1992 graduate captained both the math and wrestling teams, and was very involved in WWPT-FM.
He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University — in just 3 years — as a bio-chem major. He now lives across the street from NYU Medical School, where he earned his MD/Ph.D degree.
A story on the American College of Radiology website — titled “The Meaning of Grit” — describes his work.
At Stein’s suggestion, Maimonides created a team of residents and physicians to place central lines and bring simple procedures directly to patients, at bedside.
That would eliminate the need to transport them “through areas of unknown levels of infection … and keep IR suites available for more urgent procedures.”
Stein oversaw the residents still in his department, and also those on the line team. Meanwhile, he ensured that the radiology residents’ education continued.
Two weeks later, Stein was asked if radiology residents could act as medicine interns on CVOID floors and in the new surge ICUs. That was a vast increase in responsibility.
Stein’s residents rose to the occasion. He worried about their time away from their radiology duties. But, he realized, many were “exercising skills in competencies — communication, systems-based practice, and patient care to name three — that they don’t always get to practice.”
Despite feeling added stress, the radiologists handled it well. They — and Stein — learned plenty.
One of the first lessons was among the most important: “Our residents had the intangible characteristics of grit and determination.
“This virus creates a lot of fear in people. At first I didn’t appreciate how big of an impact that would have on me and the residents. But they all rose to the occasion and contributed a tremendous amount to patient care.”
(To read the entire American College of Radiology story, click here.)