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Monday’s Man – Doctor’s work faces unique challenges

By Becca Owsley, The News-Enterprise

Dr. Anesh Badiwala at work at Baptist Health Hardin.

Born in Canada, Dr. Anesh Badiwala made his way to Elizabethtown to work as a hospitalist at Baptist Health Hardin.

His father moved from India to Detroit in the early 1970s to pursue advanced studies in chemistry, then moved to Canada for a job.

His father worked as a chemist and machine operator in the film industry at Technicolor for 34 years. His mother worked as a general laborer while raising Badiwala and his brother.

“Growing up, my father always stressed why he moved from India and the importance of education,” he said. “He encouraged my brother and me to pursue careers in health care and public service.”

Thanks to his father’s advice, Badiwala, 35, completed graduate training at New York Medical College/Phelps Family Medicine Residency Program. After graduation, he joined a traditional primary care practice in New York seeing patients in the hospital and office.

He met his wife, Dr. Hiral Badiwala, during his residency in 2014. She is an optometrist at VisionWorks in Elizabethtown. They have a 2-year-old daughter.

In 2017, the family made the move to Elizabethtown to be closer to his wife’s family.

“Family is important to us and my wife and I were ready to start our own family,” he said.

During his first visit, to what was then Hardin Memorial Health, he said he felt at home.

“Subsequent visits solidified that feeling and I joined the Hospitalist Group led by Dr. John Huff, “ he said. “He leads a talented group of hospitalist physicians.”

Currently, Badiwala serves as the chair of the Department of Medicine at Baptist Health Hardin and chairs the Utilization Review Committee. He also serves on the Ethics Committee and Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes and challenges for everyone caring for patients at the hospital, he said.

“As a hospitalist physician prior to the pandemic, we were able to round on patients admitted to the hospital without the guard of masks, gowns, gloves and face shields,” he said. “We were able to meet and greet family members at the bedside of their loved ones, spend extended periods of time to review care plans and answer all the questions brought up by the patient or family.”

The majority of disease they cared for had an “evidence-based” treatment to follow, Badiwala said. But COVID-19 had none.

“We were left challenged, researching up-to-date yet always evolving treatments for COVID-19 patients, frantically reading published journal articles about medications that may or may not work for our patients,” he said. “Physicians here and across the country were left in dire situations, where the virus had ravaged a patient’s body and organs beyond any means of viable recovery; having end-of-life conversations with families of those patients, typically performed face-to-face, having them now over the phone.”

Badiwala said he had to adapt quickly to the situation and change the way they provided care for patients.

“A lot has changed over the past year with COVID-19 — it felt like we were flying a plane while building it, trying to protect everyone through the process,” he said.

Even though training to become a hospitalist prepares doctors for most circumstances in medicine, Badiwala said it did not train them for COVID-19.

“It did not train us to handle the uncertainty of risk of infection,” he said. “It did not train us to face head-on a new virus, so easily spread, we knew nothing about it, and were without useful medications to treat it.”

Though the changes and circumstances remained challenging, Badiwala said it was “overwhelmingly gratifying” when he could discharge a patient who had improved after having COVID-19.

“We saved another life,” he said.

But, when patients died because of COVID-19 and it’s complications, he said it left those caring for them downhearted.

Through his work at BHH, Badiwala and his wife donated to the COVID-19 emergency fund. He said he had heard many stories about how health care workers struggled during the pandemic and some of those struggles were financial.

“It was our way to help out other health care workers at Baptist Health Hardin who are also vital members of our care team,” he said.

Read the full story at The News-Enterprise website.

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