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A Surgeon Reflects on Communication, Education, and Family on the COVID-19 Front Lines

Gary B. Korus, MD, FACS
American Board of Surgery
Specialty: Surgery

Gary Korus, MD“Inspirational” and “desperate” are two words Gary B. Korus, MD, uses to describe his time on the front lines of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as a surgeon at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.

His experience on the front lines of this pandemic reminded Dr. Korus of the importance of communicating accurate, timely information to the public and to health care professionals. “Fear of the unknown, or worse, fear based on misinformation, has made me reevaluate how we communicate and how important trust is to that communication. To be able to provide the right care at the right time for our patients, we must do a better job.”

Medical school alone could not adequately prepare our nation’s physicians for the complex issues and uncertainty that this pandemic brought to the forefront. “I revisited papers and my old textbooks for information on the ethical allocation of scarce medical resources. Back then, we always thought in terms of things like transplanted organs and medications, not surgical masks. Our team took advantage of institution-based, open-access, and medical society websites and courses for those working outside their specialties.”

As a surgeon, Dr. Korus has always been acutely aware of how fragile life can be. Just in case, Dr. Korus wanted to make sure nothing was left unsaid. “I told my wife and children again that I love them. I reassured them that I have had a great life, with great opportunities and rewards. I also told them how proud I am of all of them, which is something that cannot be said often enough.”

Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Korus is a member of the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Penn Medicine, a world-renowned academic medical center in Philadelphia.

(Published: June 12, 2020)

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