Member Stories: Dr. Brendon Stiles

Member Stories: Dr. Brendon Stiles

Member Stories from the COVID-19 Era
Apr 06, 2020
Dr. Brendon Stiles—USA

Dr. Stiles is an Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine (@WeillCornell) and a thoracic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (@nyphospital). He is vice-chair of the IASLC Communications Committee and extremely active on Twitter (@BrendonStilesMD).

New York City has been hit hard by the pandemic. A lot of what we see on the news in the U.S. has to do with equipment shortages, but Dr. Brendon Stiles sends us some optimistic news from the heart of the city.

It has certainly been a fast-moving situation here in New York City.  In our New York-Presbyterian Hospital system, we have a high number of cases, with a considerable number of patients requiring ICU care. We are definitely short on personal protective equipment (PPE), but hospital leadership is working hard to keep up our supply. We are in the process of converting operating rooms and post-anesthesia care units to ICUs. We are also working on modifying ventilators in order to ventilate more than one patient at a time; although we are not sure yet whether this is feasible for most patients.  All elective surgical cases have been cancelled, but we are still focused on caring for our cancer patients and others with serious, chronic conditions.

The good news is that so far the COVID-19 patients are not doing as poorly as expected based upon earlier reports. There have been very few deaths throughout the system to date. Some patients have gotten quite ill and have needed ventilators, but they seem to be responding to recruitment maneuvers and prone positioning.  Undoubtedly, there will be some very sick patients, but we are hoping we can get them through their illness with excellent care and support.  I have been constantly encouraged by the dedication and morale of doctors, nurses and staff working on the front lines here at Weill Cornell Medicine and at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  They are all working incredibly hard and remain impressively focused and dedicated.

New York City itself is eerily empty when out and about.  It does seem that people are following social distancing recommendations.  And we are finally seeing masks on those people who are walking around.  We are confident that we will get through this.