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Going the Extra Mile

I had been Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery before being asked to serve as President of Mount Sinai West (MSW). There was a lot to learn! But as everyone has found, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new and unprecedented challenges. The speed of the uptick was startling – New York State’s first officially reported case was March 1st, our health system’s first case (at MSW) was on March 7th, and we peaked on April 9th with over 2,000 COVID patients in our system.

So many staff rose to the challenge – I was honored to be their colleague. They are the heroes. One remarkable story I will never forget is about a physician assistant (PA) who went the extra mile to care for a dying patient after learning from the family that this patient loved jazz music. This effort grew from the End of Life Companion Program, which was initiated and staffed by our orthopedic and medicine PAs, and physical and occupational therapy teams. Participating staff volunteered to make themselves available 24/7 to be bedside with our patients, who could not have visitors, to ensure they did not die alone.

She literally played jazz music while holding this patient’s hand during her final days.  What was even more poignant was that after this patient passed, the family reached out to this physician assistant to thank her for all she did for their mother.

 – Evan Flatow, MD, FAAOS