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EMS physicians from UT Health San Antonio helping with El Paso surge

·4 min read

Two physicians from the emergency medical services (EMS) fellowship program in the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio are aiding the El Paso medical community during the COVID-19 surge there.

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Two emergency medical services (EMS) physician specialists from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio are in El Paso to aid with the response to hospital overflow caused by the surge of COVID-19 infections there.

Katherine Raczek, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and Bryan Everitt, MD, EMS fellow, flew to El Paso on Oct. 29. They are working in a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) set up in front of University Medical Center, caring for patients whose condition is a step down from needing the intensive care unit (ICU).

"The MMU is a mini-hospital with pharmacy services, doctors, nursing, lab and cots," Dr. Raczek said. "We can do the whole range of medical procedures and interventions there. It is like a field hospital you might see in a military deployment setting."

The Long School of Medicine physicians are in El Paso as part of Texas Emergency Medical Task Force 8, which is composed of partners from the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) and the Golden Crescent Regional Advisory Council.

"This is obviously a bad situation, but it is a good opportunity for us to get involved and serve and do what we love to do, so we are excited," Dr. Raczek said.

Disaster response, including pandemic disaster relief, is part of an EMS specialist's job, Dr. Everitt said.

"Emergency medicine physicians deal with a variety of patients," he said. "We are right at home taking care of both a critically ill patient and a non-ICU patient. If for some reason the ICUs at an event become overloaded, we have that ability to flex."

EMS physicians are used to working in PPE (personal protective equipment).

"Even before COVID-19 hit, we saw patients who required special precautions," Dr. Everitt said. "It's just a fact of life in the emergency department."

"One of the unique things about UT Health San Antonio is we have several fellowships in the Department of Emergency Medicine," Dr. Raczek said. "Among them, we have EMS, Wilderness Medicine, Disaster Medicine, Global Health and Ultrasound. We train in disaster situations like this, mass casualty incidents, and that gives us an edge because we are prepared."

"It's important that people know there are physicians who are trained in EMS and that we provide this service to our citizens," Dr. Everitt said. "I don't think most people know there is a specialty in EMS. It is a new specialty full of very motivated and high-speed people."

Dr. Raczek is glad to serve in El Paso for another reason: She trained at University Medical Center for three years as a resident physician.

"For me it's an opportunity, Texans helping Texans, to serve in general, but also I have a special place in my heart for El Paso because it was my training institution," she said.

# # #

The Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is named for Texas philanthropists Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long. The school is the largest educator of physicians in South Texas, many of whom remain in San Antonio and the region to practice medicine. The school teaches more than 900 students and trains 800 residents each year. As a beacon of multicultural sensitivity, the school annually exceeds the national medical school average of Hispanic students enrolled. The school's clinical practice is the largest multidisciplinary medical group in South Texas with 850 physicians in more than 100 specialties. The school has a highly productive research enterprise where world leaders in Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cancer, aging, heart disease, kidney disease and many other fields are translating molecular discoveries into new therapies. The Long School of Medicine is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center known for prolific clinical trials and drug development programs, as well as a world-renowned center for aging and related diseases.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio, is one of the country's leading health sciences universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 37,000 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields, and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways "We make lives better®," visit http://www.uthscsa.edu.

Stay connected with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

To see how we are battling COVID-19, read inspiring stories on Impact.

SOURCE UT Health San Antonio