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How the Pandemic has impacted this Alice Hyde' Provider's Mission of Cancer Care

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Todd Whitman, MD, is a Hematologist and Oncologist who has been a member of the UVM Health Network -- Alice Hyde family for about 7 years, joining the hospital several years after becoming a member of the UVM Health Network – CVPH medical staff.

In his role as a member of Alice Hyde’s cancer care team at the Reddy Cancer Center, Dr. Whitman provides direct patient care to members of our community. His responsibilities also recently expanded after being named Assistant Chief Medical Officer for both Alice Hyde and CVPH – a role that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic arrival in New York.

The pandemic not only impacted Dr. Whitman’s job as a clinician, but his administrative responsibilities as well. As Assistant CMO Dr. Whitman is responsible for leading the hospital’s medical staff, making decisions regarding policies and procedures on medical care and testing, and working with affiliates across UVM Health Network to coordinate medical policies and practices in response to COVID-19.

“The pandemic has done a few things – it’s made it more difficult to care for people, because of the limited contact and resources,” said Dr. Whitman, “but at the same time a lot of the nonsense went away. It wasn’t about regulations or jumping through hoops; it became very much about just getting people taken care of, whatever it took, and that was a really cool thing to experience. All the noise went away, and it became just about the patient.”

With the crisis restricting patients’ access to the Reddy Cancer Center, Dr. Whitman began piloting nightly video visits for patients from his office at the RCC; he also conceived and developed Alice Hyde’s Curbside Telehealth program while working to find ways to overcome barriers to care during the early phases of New York State’s quarantine efforts.

“We’ve had a good experience in that patients were willing to do the right thing and not put themselves at risk,” he said. “And we’ve completely changed the way we provide care. I think the oncology piece of things has been really gratifying during the pandemic, because we’ve been able to use telemedicine and educate patients about immunosuppression and the things they need to know in order to keep themselves safe.”

Through it all, Dr. Whitman said, he’s heard from patients who say they miss being able to come to the RCC because of the camaraderie they find there, and send messages of appreciation and support to the center’s staff members. It’s that community support and appreciation that drives him to advocate for Alice Hyde’s development of unique programs and resources – something he says has been a major success despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“I really enjoy that interaction and interface with the Network, and that we have a lot of ability to design things specifically for Alice Hyde,” he said.

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