U of M Anesthesiologists & the Fight Against COVID-19

Beyond providing exceptional care on the front lines every day, many of our faculty and trainees have made an impact in our state, country and globally by addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in major ways. Below are the highlights so far:

Dr. Wahr Serves on M Health Fairview Command Center
As Executive Medical Director of Perioperative Domain for the M Health Fairview Health System, Joyce Wahr, MD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, has been on the team leading the M Health Fairview System to rapidly adapt and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic while best-keeping staff and patients safe. The Command Center formed with leaders across the system in order to react to and address the pandemic. Because of their organized leadership, they were able to transform the M Health Fairview Bethesda Hospital into Minnesota’s first hospital dedicated to the care of severely ill COVID-19 patients in only 72-hours, among other victories big and small.

FDA Authorizes First-of-its-kind, Low-cost Ventilator Developed by Dr. Richardson and Team
Stephen Richardson, MD, during his final months as a cardiac anesthesiology fellow before joining the faculty in the Department of Anesthesiology, partnered with a U of M research team to develop and design the Coventor, a low-cost, scalable, mechanical ventilator that can augment existing medical equipment to increase the availability of mechanical ventilation worldwide, even in low resource areas. This ventilator is the first-of-its-kind earning the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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U of M Team Design Respirator Safety Shield and System To Protect Against COVID-19
The Respirator Safety Shield and System, a COVID grant project led by Gwenyth Fischer, MD, Department of Pediatrics; Chris Hogan, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Kumar Belani, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, prevents the transfer of SARS-CoV-2 by limiting the potential for droplets emitted during coughing and sneezing to be transmitted from a patient with COVID-19.

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Military 'Battle Buddy' System Comes to Hospitals and Clinics
Spurred by Col. Brian McGlinch, MD, an Army Reserve hospital commander and assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, a team of faculty has developed and implemented the Minnesota Resilience Action Plan (MinnRAP) to protect the emotional well-being of M Health Fairview healthcare workers using skills learned in military training to serve as a strategy for maintaining optimal mental resilience during the pandemic and beyond.

The program is led by Sophia Vinogradov, MD, and Jeff Wozniak, PhD, LP, both in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, along with a steering committee that includes Barbara Gold, MD, MS, and Dr.McGlinch from the Department of Anesthesiology.

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Dr. Cappachione Deployed to NYC
When New York City became the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S,. Captain John Cappachione’s, U.S. Navy Reserve was deployed to NYC. His unit was assigned to work at Bellevue Hospital in the ICU, where he treated COVID-19 patients.

U of M Education Office Organizes Virtual MARC Conference
Each year, current anesthesiology residents create and present posters and presentations on various clinical and research topics at the Midwest Anesthesia Residency Conference (MARC), but, like many large events and gatherings, the 2020 conference was canceled in response to COVID-19. Adapting swiftly to the cancellation, the Department of Anesthesiology decided to host the Virtual Anesthesia Residency Conference (VARC) over Zoom and was joined by The University of Iowa, Medical School of Wisconsin Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin, Madison campus, University of Utah and Northwestern.

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