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3 doctors from different central Ohio hospitals supporting each other, working to improve patient care

The three infections disease doctors say they don't look at each other as competitors, but as people with the same goals in mind.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For those who have been on the frontlines since the pandemic first began to now, it continues to be a learning process.

Many in the medical world are leaning on each other for support and are working collectively together, to provide the best patient care.

We’re told, by healthcare workers, hospital systems are sharing ideas, strategies and information with one another.

On Tuesday, we spoke with three local infectious disease doctors from three different hospitals:

  • Dr. Mark Herbert, an infectious specialist with Mount Carmel Medical Group.
  • Dr. Nora Colburn, an infectious disease physician and Medical Director of Epidemiology for the Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
  • Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, Infectious Disease doctor, Assistant Medical Director for Infectious Diseases OhioHealth.

“Some people would look at us as competitors, I don’t really think we’re competitors. I think we all have the same mission. We may work for different bosses, but I think we all have the same goals in mind,” Dr. Herbert said.

Dr. Herbert said it’s not only the hospital systems working together, but they’re working with public health officials and others who are tackling the pandemic.

He said every day is a new day to educate and relay that information to the community.

The other doctors agree.

“Figuratively, when COVID-19 first came on the scene, not knowing much about it it’s kind of like we were told to go fly this plane and we were all going through that experience together,” Dr. Gastaldo said.

Dr. Gastaldo said for people in medicine and in public health, it’s all about sharing experience.

“It’s very common for me to send a phone a friend message to my colleague in other areas to ask them questions to make sure we’re all on the same page with at least my thought process on scenarios related to COVID-19,” Dr. Gastaldo said.

As for the Infectious Diseases portion in the medical world, Dr. Colburn described it as being small. She says she regularly texts, emails and calls other ID doctors across the state.

She said there’s a strong network in the Infectious Disease field.

“We can reach out to anybody and our idea and then the Infectious Disease Society of America is really great,” Dr. Colburn said.

We asked the three doctors how this network impacts the progress when going through a pandemic and how it impacts a community.

“Well, it’s very useful. One thing I learned this past year is when you talk to the public, it’s really good to have a consistent cohesive message so as much as possible," Dr. Gastaldo said.

Dr. Herbert weighed in on this as well and said delivering a coherent message means making it the same for whether there’s masking in the hospital hallways, whether hospitals are allowing visitors or not and even testing.

“Early on we had conversations what testing platforms do you have in your lab, what do you have in your lab, how do you use them together, what’s your strategy of testing and I think that was very helpful for me,” Dr. Herbert said.

With the vaccine being available and people in the community starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, the doctors are hopeful but not too optimistic.

They used the word “cautious,” because they want to make sure they are staying focused on the reality of the situation and that more still needs to be done to help people.

“I’m really happy I’m part of the ID team. Not just at OSU but in the city and the state, I’m really happy I’m part of this group,” Dr. Colburn said.