College of
Human
Medicine

Dean's Update | April 30, 2021

Residents sitting at a table

Friends,

I am coming to the end of a two-week rotation on the MSU Internal Medicine hospital service. Our faculty and residents constitute four teams caring for inpatients with a range of internal medicine conditions – basically, we take care of adults sick enough to be in the hospital but not quite sick enough to be in the critical care units.

The core of this physician care, and the backbone of care at any teaching hospital, is the residents. I have a great team (pictured above L-R: Senior Resident Manel Boumegouas, Junior Resident Mahmoud Abdelsamia, LCE Student Rebecca Nyinawabeza, Neuro Resident Victoria Egedus Hernandez, and Junior Resident Enhua Wang), and they have done an excellent job for the patients and have kept me out of trouble too.

Here and across the country, residents have soaked up so much additional work during the pandemic. Residents in our communities have been pulled from electives into hospital medicine and critical care duties to work six out of seven days for months on end. I cannot say enough about the talent and dedication of residents. They have cared for our patients and carried our hospitals through the worst of the pandemic. They do not get paid so well, but we owe them so much.

Most days about a third of our patients are in for acute COVID-19 or are recovering from COVID-19. At the start of my two weeks, about half of our patients were acutely ill with COVID-19. In rounds today, none of our patients are acutely sick with COVID-19, but a third of the patients are recovering from the pulmonary, vascular, or neurologic impacts of COVID-19.

This group of patients has been younger than when I was on clinical duty previously this year. This rotation, the age range of our dozen or so COVID-19 patients has been 18-77 with a median age of 54. Mostly they have pretty standard comorbidities like Type 2 diabetes, asthma, COPD, or being overweight enough that their doctor should suggest they lose weight. No patient on our team has died yet, but multiple patients who were doing reasonably well before COVID-19 are now incapacitated by lung disease or have neurological disabilities that are permanent. Please encourage vaccination.

And, please offer to speak with groups about the vaccines. Alternatively, let me know who is interested in hearing about the vaccine, and I will make sure we find someone who can answer their questions.

There is some college news to share:

  • I would like to encourage faculty to attend the spring faculty meeting on May 5, 3-5 p.m. – we need to finish work on the college bylaws! We will discuss the proposed changes at the meeting and vote electronically after the meeting.
  • The MSU Health Care Inc. team is meeting with departments regarding the new clinic funding model. In the analysis, each department does better with this system compared to the status quo.
  • The college dean search begins with a series of open forums with the search firm. Check your email for the link to the remaining meeting on May 6, from 10-10:55 a.m.
  • Check out our own Mona Hanna-Attisha’s congressional testimony on lead pipes and water infrastructure. If you can find the video, fans of the game Clue!, you will find Dr. Mona with the lead pipe in my office!

I think this surge in COVID-19 cases is clearly getting better, but we have to stay safe. The literature suggests the B.1.1.7 variant is more dangerous than we have faced previously and that might be true for younger people as well as older patients. I have seen some pretty surprising COVID-19 cases this rotation. Stay safe. Wash your hands, wear your mask, spatially distance, and please get vaccinated.

Serving the people with you,

Aron

Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean