Critical care physician pays tribute to fellows working the front line of COVID-19

We are IU Health

June 04, 2020

When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, pulmonary and critical care IU Health Dr. Gabriel Bosslet made a serious decision – to stay at home. He didn’t want to risk exposing his wife to the coronavirus. He poured his energy into another project.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

The way IU Health Dr. Gabriel Bosslet sees it he made a couple of big decisions at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. One was to remain at home in an effort to protect his wife and children. Two was to deploy a number of IU School of Medicine fellows into the realm of critical care.

“As the fellowship director, I brought these people here and chose them to train with us. I feel responsible for their physical and mental well-being,” said Bosslet, who serves as an assistant professor of clinical medicine for IU School of Medicine. “As the coronavirus hit, there was a need for additional services. We were three times the maximum capacity and we needed more hands on deck. I was asking these people to interrupt their spring and provide ICU care that they hadn’t planned to provide,” said Bosslet.

Foremost on his mind was protecting the fellows from contracting the disease.

“Couple that with the idea that I generally don’t ask people to do things I haven’t done myself, and I felt a strong sense of duty to let people know what these trainees were doing for our community,” said Bosslet.

In January, his wife of 20 years, Sarah Bosslet, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was in treatment as the coronavirus heightened. She is in the care of IU Health Drs. Folasade Imeokparia, Kathy Miller, and Mary Lester.

Born out of what Bosslet calls “nervous anxiety” he began a Facebook site called the “Daily Hoosier Covid-19 Update,” using public data to help make sense of the path of COVID-19. He gained nearly 8,000 followers in a matter of weeks. The second project Bosslet adopted was writing short profiles on the 21 IU School of Medicine fellows he called “heroes.” With the help of Liz Kaye, a photographer, with Indiana University, Bosslet featured the fellows dressed for work in the ICU, and also showed them in photos outside the hospital setting.

Seven of those fellows will graduate on June 5. They include Hem Desai, Jared Meeker, Tobin Greensweig, Adil Sheikh, Michael Burk, Nawar Al-Nasrallah, and Phil Hanneman.

Bosslet wrote in a tribute to “hero” Michael Burk: “This morning Michael Burk got up, hugged his wife, Lindsey, and two kids good bye before heading to the ICU to fight COVID-19. Doing this at the end of his fellowship is a little like running back into a burning building to save more people.”

With his wife recovering from surgery, Bosslet has headed back to the hospital where he says he enjoys making connections with his co-workers.

“It is nothing short of miraculous how the staff members at IU Health have come together to fight this pandemic,” said Bosslet. “I am so proud of the part these fellows have taken in that fight and I look forward to watching them continue in their practice.”

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