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Medical school alumni report from the front lines of the fight against COVID-19
Dr. Natalia Echeverri testing for COVID-19 among Miami's homeless.

Medical school alumni report from the front lines of the fight against COVID-19

April 14, 2020 at 11:10am

There has never been a time of greater need for medical professionals. Many graduates of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine are working on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. It is not overly dramatic to say that they are selflessly risking their lives to save others. These are just a few of them.

Dr. Alexander Volsky suited up for risky work.
Dr. Alexander Volsky wearing protective personal equipment (PPE).


Alexander Volsky, MD’14
Anesthesiologists play a vital role in the battle against coronavirus. If a patient experiences severe respiratory issues due to COVID-19, anesthesiologists, the airway experts, are called upon to intubate the patient.

Intubating a patient with COVID-19 is a risky procedure. The anesthesiologist inserts a tube into the patient’s mouth and through their vocal cords. The patient is then placed on a machine called a ventilator that helps them breathe. During this procedure, the anesthesiologist’s face is inches away from the patient’s mouth and is exposed to a high concentration of viral droplets.

"These difficult moments of high intensity are what first sparked my interest in anesthesia, “ said Dr. Alexander Volsky. An anesthesiologist at a hospital on Miami Beach, he said he is “happy to help others and serve my community during this uncertain time.”

Volsky said his hospital has implemented safety protocols for intubating COVID-19 patients and is providing enough protective equipment (PPE) to make him feel safe during intubations.

Because of his high-risk job, he is self-isolating from his family.

“Measures required to protect us from the virus go against our basic human instinct of wanting to be with loved ones during illness and difficult times,” he said. “It's tough for everyone.”


Dr. Natalia Echeverri donates masks that she sews at home.


Natalia Echeverri, MD ’15
The birth of a child is an act of wonder and joy, but COVID-19 is causing anxiety for expectant parents. Dr. Natalia Echeverri is an obstetrician and gynecologist at a hospital in Miami. To give her patients some peace of mind, she assures them that she will be delivering their baby whether she is on call that day or not.

Echeverri also joined a group that distributes homemade masks and tests for COVID-19 among Miami’s homeless population.

“A colleague and I started making masks at home, including kids masks, to give out,” she said. The mother of two—a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old—Echeverri feels everyone, even kids, should wear masks.

“After 12 years of medical training I would have never thought that one of the largest impacts I could have on society would be to make masks to help keep others safe,” she said. “Here I am, using my surgical skills to create masks to keep my patients safe. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud that my hands can heal and create and sew and protect.”


Physician Assistant Paige Ielati in a triage tent for suspected COVID patients.

Paige Ielati, MPAS ’18
Paige Ielati is a physician assistant working in an emergency room in Southern California. She graduated from the HWCOM Masters in Physician Assistant Studies program in 2018. In a recent Instagram post, she wrote: “Never did I think during my first year as a PA I would I be working during a pandemic.”

Then she asked for patience. “It is important to stay calm, remain home for milder symptoms. I know we all have cabin fever, but we have a ways to go,” she said. “Keep your spirits high.”


Dr. Alexander Daoud's face bears the marks left by PPE.

Alexander Daoud, MD’16
New York has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, and that’s where Dr. Alexander Daoud works. He is a dermatology resident who's been enlisted to help his hospital deal with the crisis. He is helping to treat patients with viral pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and other COVID-19-induced diseases.

Daoud joins the chorus of physicians and health care professionals urging everyone  to do their part.

“Thoughts and prayers are lovely - please actualize them through your behaviors,” he said. “STAY HOME. Don’t socialize in person, don’t visit friends or family outside your household, don’t work out together, don’t be selfish. Our only chance of getting through this is to work together and ALL self-isolate.”