How do you treat an infection nobody’s ever seen, a virus so new it has “novel” in its name?
That’s been the task of Dr. Chirag Shah, director of the intensive care unit at Morristown Medical Center.
Shah specializes in pulmonology, holds degrees in medicine, clinical epidemiology and biology, and has done training stints at Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania.
But nothing has tested him like the novel coronavirus. During the surge in mid-April 2020, Morristown’s intensive care unit saw a five-fold increase in patients.
Listen to Episode Two of the MorristownGreen.com podcast:
In this podcast with MorristownGreen.com — recorded a few days before President Trump revealed he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine — Shah says his team administered the controversial anti-malarial drug in the early stages of the pandemic.
Despite preliminary studies suggesting some benefits of this and other drugs, however, he says they “haven’t shown substantial benefit whatsoever.”
Shah adds he was surprised by the amount of attention given, abroad and in the U.S., “to experimental treatments, that for whatever reason, people thought, based on very little biologic plausibility, that they’d be helpful, and jumped onto them as if they were going to be miracle saving drugs.
“The lesson …I want others to learn is, you have to have a lot of science to back a therapy. Because all therapies have side effects,” Shah says.
He also responds to the outpouring of public support for hospital workers, discloses a surprising observation about P.P.E. (personal protective equipment) and ventilators, and share another lesson of COVID-19: Medical professionals must remove their “game face” sometimes.
“We’re all human. We all have experiences that can maybe make this experience easier for everybody.”