Bringing peace in a pandemic

A team of UF Health ‘champions’ ease fears for elderly COVID-19 patients at risk of delirium

By Bill Levesque
patient Patricia Fountain
delirium alien Daniel “Ricky” Ortiz, M.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s division of hospital medicine, dressed in full personal protective equipment.
“It was frustrating for everyone involved because the things we normally do — having the family at bedside, caregivers coming into the room a lot — you just couldn’t do for safety reasons.''
— Daniel “Ricky” Ortiz, M.D.
Nila Radhakrishnan, M.D. Nila Radhakrishnan, M.D.

Perfect storm

Mariam Mufti, M.D. Mariam Mufti, M.D.
“It was a perfect storm of things COVID-19 made worse.”
— Mariam Mufti, M.D.
Daniel “Ricky” Ortiz, M.D. Daniel “Ricky” Ortiz, M.D.
“We were in a conundrum because one of the worst things you can do for someone who is at risk of delirium is to put them in a room by themselves. That makes their confusion much worse.”
Nila Radhakrishnan, M.D.

Delirium conundrum

team Suzanne Maye, R.N.​, (Left) and Jennifer Melara, R.N., consult with one another on Unit 75. Jesse S. Jones

The champions

Ortiz team Daniel “Ricky” Ortiz, M.D., confers with Rocio Rosario Calzadilla, R.N. Jesse S. Jones
melara Jennifer Melara, R.N., on Unit 75 at UF Health Shands Hospital. Kiran Lukose, M.D.

Human touch

maye Suzanne Maye, R.N., enters the door of a COVID-19 patient on Unit 75. Kiran Lukose, M.D.

Virtual visits

“Some of the patients just wouldn’t interact with the nursing staff. I had one patient who just wasn’t responding to me. He’d kind of give me one-word answers.”
Jennifer Melara, R.N.
final Echo-tech Millan Aguero adjusts his PPE before interacting with a patient. Jesse S. Jones

Keeping faith