With more than two decades of experience as a cardiologist and internal medicine physician, Dr. Ken Zelnick ’90 has treated infections of all types. Now on the front line of treating COVID-19 patients in Broward County, Ken shares that this virus is different: “For the first time in my career, we do not have answers and are forced to continually try new methods and therapies to save lives.”
In March, Ken and his colleagues began readying Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients. At that point, the hospital was able to handle approximately 20 cases of COVID-19 patients; it needed to prepare to handle far greater cases concurrently.
“It was an enormous task, since nearly half of the hospital rooms needed to be set up for negative flow pressure within seven days,” said Ken, explaining that negative room pressure is an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centers to prevent cross-contamination from room to room. Negative room pressure includes ventilation that generates pressure lower than of the surroundings to allow air to flow into the isolation room but not escape from the room. Air will naturally flow from areas with higher pressure to areas with lower pressure, thereby preventing contaminated air from escaping the room. It was a team effort and I am grateful to all of the hospital staff from administrators to nurses to support staff, “ said Ken.
COVID-19 poses a risk to all medical professionals working in medical facilities and caring for patients diagnosed with the disease. Because the virus can remain airborne for more than 10 minutes, Ken and his colleagues are in direct contact with the virus daily and understand the potential for infection.
Ken, who also volunteers his time as a member of Pine Crest School’s Ambassador Council, and his wife Laura are the parents of three Pine Crest Lower School students: Noah ‘31, Ava ‘31, and Riley ‘28. To mitigate the family’s exposure and ensure safety at home, Ken isolates himself in a separate room. Though this is his “new normal” for the moment, Ken stresses the importance of staying healthy and avoiding possible contact with the virus.
Join us in thanking Ken and the many Pine Crest heroes who are working tirelessly and selflessly to save the lives of so many afflicted with COVID-19!
Are you or a fellow Pine Crest graduate working on the front lines through your profession or volunteer service? If so, please click here to share your story.