ACOI.org • American College of Osteopathic Internists
ACOI Info • March 2022
ACOI Healthcare Heroes Facing COVID-19
They were desperate to help a family member who was an ER doctor in New York and couldn’t get PPE to be sufficiently protected. Personally, he and his family took precautions, and still exercise care to wear masks in public places. “While we are not going to lock ourselves in a hermetically sealed room every day, we’re not going to be stupid either,” he says. COVID Strikes and Creates Rare Complication For all the care he and his family took, three months after getting a booster shot, a member of his family contracted COVID. While she had no pulmonary manifestations and no fever, she developed an auto- immune mediated post infectious dysautonomia known as autoimmune SARS-CoV-2-induced DNS. “The autonomic nervous system is what helps control keeping your blood pressure at a fairly steady range and your heart at a fairly steady rate. It went totally out of whack, where her blood pressure would go from extremely high to extremely low in just a few minutes. And when it goes extremely high, she developed stroke-like symptoms,” he recalls. After three hospitalizations, a plethora of medications to steady blood pressure, and immunologic therapies including intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) and plasma exchange therapy, he describes the past few months as a “nightmare” for him and his family. His family member also has had significant and varying mental status changes and brain fog.
The IVIG immune therapy is working for now, but because the condition is considered rare, Dr. Packer doesn’t know what to expect and despite reaching out to contacts around the country, “nobody is quite sure how to even deal with it.” While the hope is for 100% recovery, Dr. Packer can’t help but feel frustrated that precautions could have minimized the opportunity for the virus to mutate into variants and continue to pose a threat. He doesn’t understand patients questioning the efficacy of a vaccine that has been given to hundreds of millions of people. “The logic defies me when somebody says, ‘I don’t want something in my body that’s experimental.’ I am confused at how you say that after how many doses of vaccine have been given throughout the world. But at the same time, they’re willing to get IV antibody infusions or some of these newer antiviral agents that have not been as extensively tested. I don’t understand.” As the COVID numbers in Arizona and throughout the country decrease, his practice continues to be vigilant. “We must do it because this is how you take care of people. This is our job. This is what we do.” O
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by the Healthcare Heroes in this series are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the ACOI. Throughout this series of Healthcare Heroes stories published in this newsletter, our goal has been to reflect the realities and truths as seen through the eyes of our members. We’ve heard numerous stories of how our members are managing the stress of being at the epicenter of healthcare during an historic pandemic. We know there are likely many of you who can relate to the sincerity of this story as well as others we have featured. We are an organization that has been built on listening and support. Contact Susan Stacy at susan@ acoi.org to let us know how we can help.
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