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Caring for Non-COVID Patients During the Pandemic and Health Care Workforce Safety

Rebecca M. Minter, MD, FACS
American Board of Surgery
Specialty: Surgery

During a global pandemic such as COVID-19 it is tempting to imagine that all health care professionals drop what they are doing and begin to work on that pandemic.

Fortunately for their colleagues and patients, they do not. Most of them continue to provide compassionate and expert care to their patients and, in the case of Rebecca M. Minter, MD, demonstrate leadership and publish timely guidance on creating a safe workforce during pandemic.

Patient Care
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Minter, a surgical oncologist, continued to care for her patients, as conditions like pancreatic cancer required teams to move ahead despite COVID-19. However, additional emotional support and education were needed in light of the pandemic. Several patients who were observing ‘stay at home’ orders were understandably anxious about going without their loved ones to medical appointments or checking into a hospital for a procedure. In addition to providing these patients with quality medical care, Dr. Minter and her team worked with them to ensure they understood the risk vs. benefit implications of their decisions to proceed with or postpone care during the pandemic. For some patients, it made sense to postpone treatment for a short time. For others, such as the patient described in this video, it was wise to address her condition as soon as possible to ensure it did not become life-threatening.

Creating a Safe Workforce During a Pandemic

In addition to her patient-care responsibilities, Dr. Minter worked in collaboration with other leaders in her department to respond to COVID-19. She and other leaders co-authored the department’s “Blueprint for Restructuring a Department of Surgery in Concert With the Health Care System During a Pandemic,” which appeared in JAMA Surgery in early April 2020. This guidance document describes the successful approach taken by the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin to create a safe workforce to address medical needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered topics include: organizational framework, clinical and educational challenges, strike team development, communications, and resident and APP workforce integration.

Certified by the American Board of Surgery (ABS), Dr. Minter serves as the Chair of the Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, an international leader in education, research, and service. She serves on the Board of Directors for the ABS.

(Published: June 15, 2020.)

Read more stories from the COVID-19 front lines.

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