Pine Crest Alumna and Emergency Medicine Physician Adapts to Intensive COVID-19 Care

Posted by Pine Crest School on May 14, 2020 at 2:32 PM

“Pine Crest truly gave me a strong foundation to deal with whatever life throws my way,” according to Dr. Kim Donaldson ’90.

As an emergency medicine physician and telemedicine services entrepreneur, Kim certainly has had plenty thrown her way during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Her responsibilities have increased tremendously as she adapts to working not only in the ER but also in the intensive care unit.

“I love the adrenaline of working in the ER, but this pandemic work is much more physically and emotionally draining,” said Kim. “This is the first time in my 21-year medical career where the work comes home with me, is pervasive in everyday life, and inescapable. COVID-19 is scary on many levels. You can control your world, but you cannot control the outside world. It does not take much to infect others. I am in full PPE at work and meticulously sterilize my car and clothes every time I leave the hospital.”

When caring for her COVID-19 patients, Kim focuses on breaking the isolation of their experience.

“Onset and rapid deterioration of health can and often do happen quickly. Patients are isolated from both family and staff alike,” she said. “We use FaceTime to allow at least a bit of connection with loved ones from their isolation rooms.”

Receiving support and an outpouring of gratitude from the community helps Kim see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Things will be better after this experience,” said Kim. “I have received so much support and such an outpouring of gratitude from the community. This really has brought communities together. Even my godson in Maryland wrapped goody bags to give to my staff as a token of his appreciation.”

Kim remains focused on bringing healthcare to those with the greatest need and the least access. Prior to the pandemic, she felt troubled by the shortage of primary care physicians. She saw the burden this caused on the healthcare industry and the negative impact it had on preventive medicine, wellness, and the overall cost of care for individuals and healthcare groups. Kim joined a team of other professionals in 2012 to create SwiftMD, a company dedicated to increasing the use of telemedicine throughout the healthcare sector, particularly for those who could not otherwise access primary medical care. The utilization rate of telemedicine for their clients has increased from below 10% to 55% in less than a decade.

Kim grew up in the Bahamas and was a boarding student at Pine Crest from seventh through twelfth grade, as were her two sisters, Sheryl ’80 and Lisa ’93. 

“Our parents both held two jobs in order to send us to Pine Crest,” said Kim. “Bahamian families often sent their children to boarding schools. For us, the unique way Pine Crest created cohesiveness among diversity was a special draw that we could not find in other schools. Pine Crest set the bar high for everything I would accomplish in my life.”

In addition to her roles as a physician and entrepreneur, Kim is the proud parent of three children. Her daughter Kaitlyn earned an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree from Duke University. Kim’s son Justin played collegiate baseball at George Washington University and University of San Diego and was drafted as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox drafted in 2019. Kim now helps her five-year-old son Logan with distance learning.

Reflecting on her Pine Crest experience, Kim said, “I still have some great lifetime friends from my time at Pine Crest. I even keep in touch with several of my amazing teachers. It really was one of the best times in my life.”

Are you or a fellow Pine Crest graduate working on the front lines through your profession or volunteer service?  If so, please share your story.

Topics: Alumni, 2020, COVID-19