Doctor-to-be bound for Detroit: ‘This is what we signed up for’


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine is getting ready to send reinforcements to Michigan hospitals hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSU announced late last month that it would be fast-tracking the process of getting more than 350 of its medical school graduates into the field. Among them is Haseeb Khan — a soon-to-be doctor of emergency medicine.

Khan was supposed to graduate on May 9, but the pandemic came and plans changed.

“You know, we’ve been stuck in our apartment for the last two months and I really wish I could be out there on the front lines helping people,” he said.

He’ll soon get that wish. Khan is getting ready to start his residency at Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace Hospital — a place so overwhelmed by coronavirus, it reportedly started storing bodies in vacant hospital rooms and sleep study labs, prompting an investigation by the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

But that’s not deterring Khan.

“DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital is one of the hospitals that I really want to go to. And I was fortunate enough to get selected to go there,” said Khan.

In a Detroit News report posted April 9, a nurse described Sinai-Grace as “a war zone,” saying patients were lying everywhere, with about five of them dying during each 12-hour shift.

Days later, Sinai-Grace made national headlines after photos surfaced of bodies stored in vacant hospital rooms because the morgue was full. The hospital has since received refrigerated storage units and state officials have vowed more support.

“That hospital is definitely being pushed to its limits in regards to patient load, staffing load, and the equipment necessary to take care of those patients in a safe manner,” Khan said.

But his outlook on working at Sinai-Grace remains unchanged.

“I understand that they care for a very sick population of patients and that many hospital systems in Detroit are being pushed to their absolute capacity,” he stated in a Monday email to News 8. “The high number of Covid19 cases at Sinai Grace is testament to how they’ve always strived to serve the underserved populations of Detroit. I have been in communication with the residents at Sinai Grace and I’ve been extremely impressed by how the physicians have handled themselves during this extraordinary time. I am eager and motivated to join the front line and help out as best I can.”

Khan will work in Sinai-Grace’s emergency department, which handles more emergency calls than any other hospital in metro Detroit, the hospital told WDIV.

“You know, it’s kind of scary. It’s kind of nerve-wracking. But at the end of the day, this is what we signed up for,” he said. “You know, everybody talks about helping people in their personal statements. So this is the perfect time to help as many people as you can cause all the help is needed right now.”

Khan says the MSU College of Human Medicine has been trying to help its graduates-to-be prepare with a course on COVID-19, which will be a requisite for future medical students.

“That’s been giving us the in-depth biology, the microbiology, the epidemiology behind how this virus, came, how it’s spreading so fast. So it’s been really helpful these last two weeks, getting a crash course on this COVID-19 case, especially since we’re getting ready to go out there and help people,” he said.

While Sinai-Grace staff have protested over the immediate need for more workers, Khan says his original July 1 start date has not yet moved up.

“As great as it is to have extra hands to help, if we’re just fresh, medical graduates coming into the emergency department trying to get used to things, trying to learn the the EMR and everything, that might just be a hassle for the physicians in order while they tried to take care of patients who are really sick,” Khan said. “So I could definitely understand why some programs might be a little hesitant to take on new grads just because right now they need all hands on deck and they really can’t focus on teaching or helping us learn the EMR.”

Khan brings some experience to the ER.

“I worked as an EMT for a while as an undergrad, but I saw that mostly for EMTs you were transporting patients from their home to the hospital, from different places, and you weren’t really able to add much to the patient care. I wanted to be involved in a field where I could take control, be able to plan out the care of a patient and see it all the way through. So definitely being a physician was something that I really wanted to be,” he said.

Khan says his class was one of the first at MSU to start hospital and clinical experience within the first month of medical school.

“We’ve been treating patients, we’ve been in the hospitals, we know how things are. And so we’ve been exposed to patient care, so we’re ready. We’re trained, and we’re eager to get into the front lines and help out as much as we can,” he said.

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