Russell K. McAllister, MD

Russell K. McAllister, M.D., FASA
TSA Newsletter Editor-in-Chief / Academics Editor
Clinical Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology
Baylor Scott & White Health Central Division
Texas A&M College of Medicine
Temple, TX

The COVID-19 Roller Coaster

As we usher in a brand new year, much still feels the same. However, there continues to be hope as we dream of a day when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is barely noticeable. It seems that every time that we feel that we are over the largest hills and turns on this roller coaster, we are drawn back in with new surges and new variants of the SARS Cov-2 virus. It has truly been a roller coaster full of ups and downs. The number of people affected by the latest omicron variant seems to be far greater due to increased transmissibility, however, for many, the symptoms do not seem to be quite as severe as previous variants. However, the sheer number of patients affected has still led to capacity issues at many hospitals around the state and nation and it is still a deadly virus affecting some very severely.

I tend to be more of a realist than an optimist, however, I am hopeful that the virus is weakening and immunity is rising. So, I will predict that we will have a much better year with regards to the COVID pandemic. I believe that we have all been forever changed since the beginning of the pandemic and many have been impacted severely in the past two years. Our communities have suffered great losses in all aspects of life. As we climb out of the pandemic, it will be important for us all to be leaders in our community to rebuild and determine how our lives will be post pandemic. I look forward to meetings occurring in-person on a more regular basis when it is determined to be safe.

I would like to thank all of our TSA colleagues for their roles in leading the way through this experience. Many did jobs that were outside of their normal routines and our specialty came through with expertise in many aspects of COVID patient care.

As we kick off this new year, the editorial board and other TSA members present several very interesting articles that I hope you will find useful. Dr. Kercheville, as always, gives an excellent report on ASA meetings that have occurred. Since many were unable to attend, these notes should prove to be very enlightening for many. We have an excellent article on the opioid epidemic that traces some of the history of how we got to where we are. We also share an article on wellness strategies and resources that are available and that may be of use to copy in our hospitals. We give a nice summary of a new medication on the scene, remimazolam, and discuss the implications and its potential uses. Additionally, an article on supply chain seems timely as we deal with shortages of multiple items vital to our practices. As the American Board of Anesthesiology changes their protocols, we give an update on how that impacts our members. A wonderful poem describes the anxiety that we all have felt dealing with intubations of COVID positive patients over the past two years. Finally, my favorite feature of the TSA Newsletter, the “On the Shoulders of Giants: Legends of Texas Anesthesiology” series continues. This edition features a stirring tribute to Ezzat Abouleish, M.D., co-authored by his former colleague, Carin Hagberg, M.D., and his son, our very own Secretary of the TSA, Amr Abouleish, M.D. I think that you will all enjoy reading this excellent summary of all of the contributions that Dr. Ezzat Abouleish brought to our specialty, not only through medicine, but also through humor and art.

I hope that you all enjoy the articles as much as I have and that you will find them widely beneficial. Our goal is to cater to a wide variety of interests of our members and to provide information that is interesting and helpful to your daily practice. As we continue the roller coaster for a bit longer, my hope is that the biggest hills and loops are behind us. Please keep arms and hands inside the ride at all times. Thanks to all of our members for their continued hard work and leadership.

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