Daniel Eiras, MD, on How COVID-19 Has Affected My STD/HIV Practice in NYC

In this podcast, Dr Eiras discusses his experience with treating patients in New York City amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the pandemic has changed his practice.

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Daniel Eiras, MD, is an infectious diseases physician and city medical specialist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.


Daniel Eiras: My name is Daniel Eiras, and I'm an infectious disease physician here at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where I normally see patients with HIV and other infectious diseases at public health clinics across the city. For the past 3 weeks, though, all of the city clinics have been closed by the order of the Health Commissioner [Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD], except for one in southern Manhattan.

And so, most of the doctors and nurse practitioners from the health department have been transitioned over to the Office of Emergency Management Incident Command System in order to help out with the response to the to the COVID-19 epidemic. This is the same kind of system that has been put into place with other emergencies in New York, like the H1N1 outbreak, as well as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

… My role on a daily basis has changed pretty significantly over the past couple of weeks. I see patients … as I mentioned, often serving as the primary care provider for HIV patients. These days, I'm mostly participating in following up patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 at some of the city hospitals. I'm also involved in identifying close contacts of those individuals who might have been exposed or infected.

The city health department as a whole is working to identify areas where resources like facemasks and ventilators are critically low, and we're also going to be involved in the process of monitoring patients once they set up some of these temporary structures in the city like the Jacob Javits Convention Center, where they're currently retrofitting the convention center to function as a 1000-bed hospital.

So, a significant amount of my work is being done remotely, either through Zoom or other telemedicine … systems and then, when necessary, I do go down to the to the command center at the at the Department of Health.

Based on some of the most recent numbers that we've been seeing, it's still pretty clear we're in the early stages of this outbreak, and we're likely weeks away from reaching any sort of plateau in terms of cases here in New York City. So, in the meantime, … we're really trying to get the message out that this is the time for all New Yorkers, young and old, healthy or otherwise–that they should stay at home and avoid areas as much as possible where they might be exposed to others who are infected. This is going to help hospitals and health care workers and will ultimately save lives as well.

… Thank you very much for having me on.