Ob/Gyn Dispatches During COVID-19: Ronald Wapner, MD

March 30, 2020

Each day during the COVID-19 crisis, we'll share an update from a member of our team in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Today's note is from Ronald J. Wapner, MD, Vice Chair of Research in Obstetrics and Gynecology for CUIMC.


It should surprise no one that to understand difficult times I turn to sports analogies. None is more perfect than that from the basketball "Zen Master" Phil Jackson who said, "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." Over the past month, nothing could be truer.

Without exception, our department has functioned as a team. We are a cohesive group of individuals functioning together with one goal in mind: our patients. Although we all have individual roles, they have been woven together by our leadership into a single smoothly operating unit capable of combating the present crisis and responding daily to the ever-changing needs of our patients.

This crisis will pass as do all, but what will remain is our memory of how all of us pulled together in response. Our front line physicians seeing patients without nearly sufficient protective gear, knowing that sooner or later many would become infected. Our nurses, medical assistants, and support staff always at the bedside supporting our patients. Sonographers continuing to scan. Researchers being re-deployed to the bedside to offer patients support and reassurance when their family and partners could not. And many, many more, all being guided by the words of the great sports legend Yogi Berra: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

In life, as in sports, exceptional teams and individuals are remembered for what they accomplished at the most difficult times. Our team will be one.

A final quote from a great Philadelphia sports legend Rocky Balboa: "It ain't about how hard you can hit. It's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward."

Ronald Wapner, MD