BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A Buffalo doctor brought his medical skills to New York City, the heart of the nation’s biggest battle against the coronavirus. He shared his front line story with 7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley.
“If you're a solider, you expect you might be brought to war at some point. If you're a doctor, you expect to be dealing with contagious diseases,” declared Dr. Michael Schehata.
This Buffalo doctor is now on the front lines of the war against COVID-19. While he works mostly in private practice in cosmetic work, Dr. Schehata, who’s affiliated with Catholic Health, has responded to a call for action downstate.
He's now caring for COVID patients at New York Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Westchester.
“The last I worked a shift, I had six patients who were family members of staff at my hospital,” Dr. Schehata explained. “Seeing staff members bringing home to their family’s and they always have the same story — I no symptoms or I had minimal symptoms — just attribute it to allergies or post nasal drip and then to see your spouse or family end up intubated in the hospital is certainly quite scary.”
“How difficult is it be on the front lines of this everyday and watching this happen and unfold?” Buckley asked. “Certainly it's emotionally taxing seeing so many patients who end up going into the intensive care until, typically their time on the ventilators is much longer than your standard pneumonia,” replied Dr. Schehata. “It’s very draining.”
For those who are critical of social distancing rules and business closures, the doctor says it's important for Western New York to remain vigilant, to prevent spreading the virus.
“I think we have a lot of things that will work to our advantage in Buffalo and we have to really seize on that opportunity,” Dr. Schehata noted. “I think Western New York is doing a great job keeping it contained especially compared to a city like New York.”
The Buffalo doctor says it's difficult to watch some people loss their health and well being forever from COVID. “I think the saddest thing I've seen are the homeless population people with nobody there in their lives,” remarked Dr. Schehata. “We’re seeing about 55 to 60 percent of the people who are ventilated more than five to seven days get pulmonary fibrous that will follow them for the rest of their life.”
He said it’s also difficult watching “very high mortality rates” among the elderly.
“Will you come back here to help with COVID?” Buckley questioned. “Oh, I certainly would — Buffalo’s certainly my priority being born and breed in Buffalo, but certainly the need for healthcare provider in Buffalo not nearly as great as in New York,” responded d Dr. Schehata.
“Doctor your best advice to all of us — that hunkered down — hoping every day that we dodge this bullet”? asked Buckley, “I think if we keep doing what we’re doing — we’re certainly on track to come out of this in a very strong position compared to other more dense populations centers,” answered Dr. Schehata.
But the doctor says one of the best things he has experienced, through this pandemic, is watching families reconnect, and realize the risk of this virus.
“They tend to reconnect and they tend to build strong family bonds that I think will continue long past this epidemic — it shows people what’s important again,” stated Dr. Schehata.