ACOInformation March 2022

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ACOI.org • American College of Osteopathic Internists

ACOI Info • March 2022 ACOI Info •

ACOI Healthcare Heroes Facing COVID-19

by Gina Kilker Dr. Jeffrey Packer Responds to Patients, Community, and Family as COVID Hits Home Thank You ACOI Healthcare Heroes

Jeffrey Packer, DO, FACOI, FASN, FASDIN, is a nephrologist who subspecializes in dialysis access for patients. Working in Phoenix, at Arizona Kidney Disease & Hypertension Centers (AKDHC), the largest kidney disease and hypertension practice in the nation, Dr. Packer’s

But the new virus posed uncertainty for Dr. Packer’s patients since there simply wasn’t enough knowledge of COVID’s effects and its potential complications. When the vaccine became available, Dr. Packer and his practice joined a concerted national effort to get kidney patients vaccinated. He estimates that today around 70% of dialysis patients are vaccinated. Pitching in to Provide N95 Masks Before there were vaccines, Dr. Packer jumped in and became active within his community to aid Phoenix area hospitals which, like others in the nation, were experiencing N95 mask shortages. Becoming a part of a grassroots effort to supply hospitals with homemade masks, he and his wife were part of a group working with unemployed seamstresses to make masks meant to simulate the medical-grade N95s that were in short supply. “I spent many evenings on our back porch cutting out air conditioner filters to stuff into the masks.” Since hospitals weren’t allowing outside masks to be brought in, he said the work felt akin to an underground operation as they met with staff members in Circle K parking lots to drop off the desperately needed PPE. Even before that, he and his wife found themselves going door-to-door in their neighborhood asking their neighbors if they had N95 masks or equivalents to donate.

For two years, we have been featuring members’ COVID-19 experiences. We have shared heart- wrenching stories from the frontlines as they faced the historic health calamity head on. We have also heard their professional and personal challenges as the uncertainties of the virus came to dominate their lives. During these last 24 months, the healthcare community has had to endure the confusion, the ever-changing CDC protocols and guidelines, and the widespread politicization of science, which has exacerbated the difficulty of doing your jobs as physicians. We know that many have felt alone and isolated. Our hope is that through these series of stories, there has been some relief and a demonstration that the ACOI is a community of support. As we shift our focus to moving forward, Dr. Jeffrey Packer’s story will be the last COVID-19 Heroes story ACOI Information will publish. In future newsletters we will continue to share member stories, highlighting the broad range of ways our members are supporting their communities. We have only been able to feature some of our members, but we consider all of you healthcare heroes. We salute our ACOI community as a remarkable, dedicated, and brave group. We are proud to have shared your stories. To read back on any past stories from previous issues, visit our newsletter archive. O

subspecialty prepares patients to successfully receive and continue life-saving hemodialysis treatments. Early in the pandemic, it quickly became obvious to Dr. Packer and his team that making space in healthcare facilities for patients contracting the new virus needed to be a priority. That meant that elective surgeries were canceled and, consequently, some specialties and practices saw a drop in their workload or shifted their focus as all-hands-on-deck were required in COVID wards. But patients depend upon dialysis to live, so Dr. Packer continued caring for patients as usual, just with an extra layer of caution. Typically, individuals who experience kidney failure and who depend upon the process of dialysis to act as a replacement for functioning kidneys already need to be extra cautious.

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