These days, Dr. Madhu Anvekar spends about as much time at Huntington Hospital as he does in his San Marino home.
Even when he is able to get a few hours away from the hospital, that doesn’t mean he can spend substantial time with his family.
“Actually, this last week is the first time in quite a while that I have been able to see them,” said Anvekar, as he prepared for another in an endless line of shifts.
Trained in internal medicine, Anvekar is director of the hospital medicine program at Huntington, where he and his team of 12 are charged with caring for every COVID-19 patient in the hospital, excepting those in the intensive care unit. Concurrently, he serves on the COVID-19 response team, assisting in devising strategies to implement the massive administrative changes and planning necessary to address the pandemic.
“We have met daily from day one,” Anvekar said in an interview. “Because we see a majority of the patients, we are very much a part of the decision-making process. The administration here has been very forward-thinking and has prepared us well.”
The most difficult part of the equation for Anvekar is the lack of interaction with his family, which has relocated to a cabin in Big Bear while he self-isolates in San Marino.
“One of the most difficult things is being isolated,” Anvekar said. “Especially at a time that you normally lean on one another, you are isolated. But friends and neighbors have been extremely supportive. They have been bringing food and snacks to the house. It’s wonderful.”
Totally isolated for the first four weeks of the crisis, Anvekar is now seeing his family “in small doses.”
“Even once a week is better than nothing,” said Anvekar, who spends the vast majority of each day in personal protective equipment. “Hopefully in the next few weeks things will change enough and I can start living a more normal life. I see so many patients and the exposure is there every day, so it is very important that I stay quarantined.”
Anvekar reported that social distancing has “definitely helped” slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“It has severely reduced the number of infections that could have been,” he said. “Science will tell us when it is appropriate to loosen up on the guidelines.”
Anvekar and his wife Alexis, who is also a doctor and board certified in internal medicine and holistic medicine, have three children; Dhilan, a 2019 graduate of San Marino High School and a current freshman at Cal Berkeley; Leela, a junior at San Marino High School who will play volleyball at New York University upon graduating from SMHS; and Jayan, an 8th grader at Huntington Middle School.
But if you are looking to dispense pity, Anvekar isn’t in the market.
“Although there is that initial fear and we are seeing highly contagious patients, this is what we have signed up for,” Anvekar said. “You are a little bit apprehensive, but glad to do it at the same time. Especially being a hospital-based doctor, this is even more of a truth. We went into this profession to see the sickest patients. Now we have them.”