Miami, Florida – With the COVID19 pandemic overtaking hospitals here in some US cities, overwhelmed physicians are hopeful they’ve found a promising new resource: internet-know-it-alls. Dr. Robert Smith, Chief Medical Officer for the Longwood Medical System, says he first heard of the idea from his Medical Director of the ICU, Dr. Vikram Singh.
“Dr. Singh had been working day in and day out managing critically ill patients in our ICUs, many of whom have been diagnosed with COVID19. And despite his best effort, these patients were dying. One day Vikram came to me and said ‘You know Rob, I think I have the solution! I stayed up all night last night reading comments on internet forums, and I’m telling you there’s people out there that are real experts on this and know what they’re doing. We need to find a way to get them here’” Dr. Smith told us.
Though there was initial hesitation Dr. Smith reluctantly agreed. With a thorough search through the depths of the internet, Longwood recruited a committee of know-it-all experts last week. We had a chance to meet one of the experts, Karen McDowell. Karen owns a small floral shop in Soho, but with forced stay at home orders added that she spent every day in quarantine learning medical science and about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “I was so glad they called me, I have been spending hours everyday learning about the virus on Wikipedia, Youtube, and internet forums. I don’t want anyone to call me a hero but I have extensive knowledge I can share with the doctors” Karen shared. “There’s so much nonsense in the media these days I want to make sure the doctors have all the science and facts from credible sources.”
Last week, Karen tagged along with Dr. Singh. Dr. Singh told us about the experience. “Having Karen with me was very helpful. While we rounded together on patients she shared her thoughts on the epidemiology of the virus, taught me about ventilator management, and even helped me considered some things I hadn’t thought of like rubbing essential oils on patients to boost their immune system, and high dose turmeric therapy for its antitoxin effects. She also shared her research on vaccinations, and something that I had never considered: that vaccinations had never done anything for any disease in human history. It was really eye opening.”
Although it is too early to tell if the internet-know-it-alls are making a difference, Dr. Smith remains optimistic. “This is going to be an uphill battle but I’m glad we have the Karens of the world to show us the way forward.”