Released: 6/11/2020 10:23:30 AM
By Scott Scanlon
Published June 10, 2020
Updated June 10, 2020
Dr. Hassan Khan and Dr. Jason Edwards, internal medicine residents at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, have spent the last three months on the front lines of health care in Buffalo.
The internal medicine residency is one of several such programs at UB focused on education, patient care and community service. Residents have spent at least 11 years in higher education – four as undergraduates, four in medical school to become doctors and three years in post-medical school training.
Edwards labored through his medical school days on UB's South Campus in older buildings that included basement classrooms. He spent most of his residency at Erie County Medical Center.
Khan worked mostly at Buffalo General Medical Center, though both doctors also sometimes handled shifts at the VA Medical Center in Buffalo. Others in the program were assigned to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Covid-19 challenged, and instructed, their last three months.
Khan was halfway through his stint as chief resident for internal medicine at Buffalo General when the pandemic swept into the region. His job morphed from a largely administrative one – scheduling weekly 80-hour work shifts and helping faculty and fellow residents juggle academics and clinical demands – to focus on virtual education, resident responsibilities and Covid-19, and jumping into shifts when staffing came up short.
“One of the biggest concerns that our residents had, especially early on, was about PPE, the personal protective equipment,” he said, “and not knowing if our hospitals had enough. The policies were constantly changing around that.”
He and Edwards expressed gratitude for companies and individuals who donated PPE – and food.
“I haven’t paid for a meal at the hospital in a long time,” said Edwards, who moved from an outpatient primary care clinic – where telehealth became more common – into roles split between the ECMC emergency department and the intensive care units at Buffalo General and the VA.
Both young doctors marveled at the abilities and professionalism displayed among nurses, residents, the more senior UB fellows, attending physicians and other staff as medical-surgical floors and ICUs filled with seriously ill patients. They worked to protect themselves and their families from contracting the novel coronavirus – in some cases while worried about someone sick at home – while they did their best to treat patients for a disease without proven treatments or a cure.