Tucson anesthesiologist entered intensive care at height of pandemic

TUCSON (KVOA) – Throughout the pandemic, many of us have been helping our neighbors, whether it’s going to an appointment for a vaccine or just knocking on the door to make a connection human when we were locked up at home. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of doctors provided the ultimate help when their colleagues and patients needed it most.

During our winter wave, as our COVID-19 numbers increased daily and hospital capacity was almost at a breaking point, an anesthesiologist from Tucson Medical Center stepped in and entered the intensive care unit.

“A certain sadness, I think, is probably the biggest emotion because these patients are very sick, extremely,” said Heidi Tavel, anesthesiologist.

Heidi Tavel was born and raised in Tucson. This TMC anesthetist and some of her colleagues answered the call when her hometown and hospital needed her compassion, care and expertise. She and some of her colleagues left the operating room for intensive care last Christmas to take care of COVID-19 patients.

“I think when we were first interviewed and I first volunteered, my overwhelming feeling was a sense of duty,” Tavel said. “Here, I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. There are sick and dying patients in Tucson, they need my help. ”

More than three months after Tavel’s first shift in intensive care – Pima County reported 85 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, but medics say we need to remain vigilant to avoid another spike.

“We have to buckle down and keep doing that for another six, seven weeks. Especially with the supplement that we get from FEMA, we can get through that and then release all of those mitigation efforts very soon,” said Dr Matt Heinz. , Supervisor of Pima County. “But, we have to wait. We don’t want to force another push.”

Tavel says this once-in-a-century public health crisis has only strengthened his career choice. For her, it is a vocation.

“This is exactly why I went to medicine. This is why I went to medical school,” Tavel said. That’s why I put my life on hold and spent 12 years studying and student loans and everything else because when people need us and are sick or dying, we are here, we are doctors. This is our main duty. My number one job is a doctor, my second job is an anesthetist. “

And as unpredictable as this virus is, Tavel says if there is another outbreak and the hospital calls, she will be there in intensive care, on the front line for her community.

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