Abraham Verghese Interviews Hospitalist Neera Ahuja About COVID-19

Neera Ahuja, MD, clinical professor of medicine and division chief for hospital medicine

In a recent Medscape podcast, Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, Linda Meier and Joan Lane Provostial Professor of medicine, interviewed Neera Ahuja, MD, clinical professor of medicine and division chief for hospital medicine, about working as a hospitalist during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The discussion, titled, “What I Wish I’d Known Two Weeks Ago,” was both bracing and ultimately encouraging.

Verghese began with gratitude, stating, “My admiration has been for the frontline folks. This must be true all across the country, but at our institution, it's the folks in the emergency room and it's the folks who receive the inpatients, namely your team. So it's truly an honor to have you share that perspective.”  He also asked Ahuja how she was doing, and she replied that it’s both “energized and exhausted” by the experience, acknowledging the staffing questions and also how many people at Stanford Medicine have stepped up, even while juggling families and other important matters.

The conversation ranged from discussions of earlier preparations to utilizing telemedicine to the question of medical students working in hospitals.  As Ahuja acknowledged, “This is a generation of learners that is so civic and social and wants to help.” And when students were unable to work on the frontlines, they decided to help in other ways, ranging from babysitting to carrying supplies.  “It's just been so touching to see the outreach from the medical student group,” she added.

Verghese asked Ahuja about her darkest moments and her brightest moments, and she lingered on the brightness, citing “the philanthropy that has come in from so many different sites.”  She continued, “I've had people I barely know reach out and say, ‘How can we help? What can we do? What do you need?’”  A restaurant in San Francisco wanted to deliver food to physicians.  Someone else delivered “well over a million sources of PPE and N95 masks.”  As Ahuja concluded, “Those types of stories are really what keeps us going and make us realize that we are one big community going through this together, and everyone's trying to help out in a way that their education, their business, and their heart lets them.”

You can listen to the full podcast or view the transcript here.