Leading a rural hospital’s COVID-19 response
A Georgia dermatologist’s National Guard service brings him to the pandemic’s front lines.
Dr. Lane's story
Because Columbus, Georgia is home to a large military base, many of my patients are veterans. These heroes and their selflessness inspired me to join the United States Air Force.
I’m now a Lieutenant Colonel with the Georgia Air National Guard assigned to the 116th Medical Group as a flight surgeon, in addition to my "day job" as a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon. Normally, my Air National Guard unit responds to natural disasters like hurricanes and floods where I apply my medical training, but what we experienced last year was anything but typical.
In early 2020, my unit was deployed to the COVID-19 response in Albany, Georgia. At the time, the area had the fourth-worst outbreak of coronavirus cases per capita in the country. The skills I learned running a dermatology practice helped me lead two rural hospitals in managing the unexpected influx of patients with COVID-19.
My general medical training and dermatology residency help me understand and diagnose a variety of diseases that show on the skin first. This knowledge was particularly useful as my Air National Guard unit and I worked alongside physicians of all specialties, nurses, medical assistants, and respiratory therapists to triage, diagnose, and treat patients exhibiting a variety of COVID-19 symptoms.
Serving on the front line was intense—especially before we understood much about how the virus was transmitted—but I was honored to do my part. I truly enjoyed working alongside physicians from all specialties toward a common mission during this unprecedented challenge.
The Colonel's perspective
“The COVID-19 pandemic is something we’ve never seen before. Civilian medical facilities were quickly on the brink of being overwhelmed and we needed physicians who could rapidly step in and not only help treat patients, but set up new operations like mass testing. Dr. Lane and his Georgia National Guard team played a key role in the COVID-19 support response to our civilian partners through collaboration and a willingness to lend a hand to others. Dr. Lane’s unique blend of management skills and medical expertise helped immensely.”
─ Colonel Louis Perino, MD, PhD, FACEP, State Air Surgeon, Georgia Air National Guard
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