Voices From the Front Lines: Susheer Gandotra, MD, LVPG Infectious Diseases–Pocono
BY TED WILLIAMS
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, none more so than those working on the front lines of this crisis – our health care heroes. Voices From the Front Lines is a series of interviews with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) health care providers who are working to care for patients who are ill with COVID-19, as well as those who are dedicated to helping prevent the spread of this virus.
Infectious diseases specialist Susheer Gandotra, MD, has been affiliated with Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono for the last 12 years after beginning his career at Christiana Medical Center in Newark, Del. He earned his medical degree at Punjab (India) Government Medical College. He completed his residency at New York Medical College, and his infectious disease fellowship at Southern Illinois University. His lifelong desire to help other people sparked his interest in medicine.
What is every day like during the COVID-19 crisis?
During late February and early March, there was a lot of stress for everyone with the crush of COVID-19 patients. It wasn’t just being very rushed with everything happening around us, it was the sense of risk with this disease, about which we knew very little. You could feel it.
How has this experience changed you, professionally or personally?
I think it made me stronger both personally and professionally. I think the way we all bonded together, it made our hospital and really the entire medical community stronger. We’re all trained as medical professionals, but something like this really gives you a sense of what you signed up for getting into medicine. Not many people in other professions get that chance.
What’s inspired you? What is a defining moment during this?
That would be two moments for me. The first was seeing one of our first COVID-19 patients pass away. It was very emotional. We felt helpless and frustrated, wishing we could have done more. The second was seeing another of our initial patients come back from a really difficult time and recover. Watching him being discharged to a grateful family, that was a really humbling experience.
What have you learned about yourself or your team?
I learned what real professional commitment is. Everybody involved – nurses, doctors, support staff – faced the unknown every day. Nobody ever took a step back. That is so encouraging to see. I can’t say enough good things about the people I work with.
What are your rituals to keep you and your family safe?
I take my work shoes off in the garage and dip them in a tray of bleach to disinfect them as best I can. Then I wear separate shoes and walk into the house, placing all my clothes in the washer right away. Just to be safe, I quarantined myself from my family in the basement for the first two months.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for health care employees or the community?
I feel we’ve probably gone through the worst of it with this first wave. If we go through another wave later in the year, we’ll have a much better idea and much better ways to approach it. We’re going to get through this.
For more Voices From the Front Lines, please visit LVHN.org/COVIDSTRONG.