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ER doctor’s COVID challenges, joys and heartfelt thank-you's

Dr. Sunny Shukla tells his story of caring for critically ill COVID patients and his fierce belief in the power of community.

Dr. Sunny Shukla Shares His Story

My name is Dr. Sunny Shukla. I am the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Noble Hospital and a former emergency room physician at Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

This is a very challenging and rewarding time to be an emergency medicine physician. We realize this is going to be a long-term fight against COVID-19, and so to provide the best care possible we have a safe and methodical approach to caring for patients. The number of patients and their families being impacted by this virus is very humbling.

I think the scariest thing about COVID-19 is how many different symptoms patients with COVID-19 may have. Patients vary in age and some come in extremely sick and need aggressive resuscitation. Then, there is always the concern of contracting COVID-19 myself and spreading it to my family.

When I’m caring for a patient, I try to treat them like a family member. I speak to them in their own language (with a translator) and try to comfort them. I also like to stay in regular contact with their family members, since this is a difficult time for them as well.

The most rewarding thing is seeing COVID patients improve. It brings tremendous joy to see a patient get extubated (removed from a ventilator) and be able to go home. This is why I went into medicine and it is very satisfying!

There are so many amazing people working together on the front lines—patient care technicians, nurses, administrative staff, radiology teams, lab staff, spiritual services, respiratory therapy, supply chain and hospital leaders. All of us together can work to conquer this virus. There is no other team I would want to work with during this pandemic. These people are truly family!

Working on the front lines has made me realize how fortunate I am to be healthy, have a job, and be able to care for the people in our community. I appreciate our teachers even more now, since teaching my children has been a great task. I truly look up to our local businesses as they are thinking outside the box to stay open. Furthermore, our essential workers have all stepped up and we cannot thank them enough. Our western Massachusetts community provides us the inspiration for excellent care. Thank you to everyone for doing their part!

Keeping Us All Safe

We're doing everything we can to provide safe care across Baystate Health. Whether you need to visit the ED for an emergency or you're coming in for a visit, we assure you that we are taking detailed measures to keep you safe.

Learn More About COVID-19 Safety