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Orthopaedic Surgery Resident Cares for Patients and Community

Michael Hughes, M.D. ’13, spent Hurricane Irma working a weekend-long emergency shift, hunkered down at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he treated broken bones and tended to the victims of the massive storm.

Michael Hughes, M.D., works with a neighbor to clear debris.

But once the fifth-year orthopaedic surgical resident got the all-clear to leave the hospital, he found a tangled mountain of work awaiting him when he arrived home in his Brickell neighborhood – dozens of downed trees and branches blocking the roads and barely leaving one debris-cluttered lane open for both north- and southbound drivers.

After checking on his apartment – which was undamaged, but without electricity – Hughes, still in his hospital scrubs, grabbed gloves and a cordless power saw and headed back to the street to help clear debris.

Along to help was his wife, Olivia Hughes, M.D. ’17, as well as their dog, Maple. Olivia is doing an internship in internal medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital and will head to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center next summer for a residency in dermatology,

“We figured we would help out any way we could to help other people get home,” said Hughes, M.D. ’13 and PGY-5 in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

For the next two or three hours, Hughes worked a 10-block stretch of roadway, sawing away at broken tree limbs, helping to clear one lane for drivers in each direction. Other people came by to help, and drivers waved and thanked them as they negotiated around the debris.

“No one was honking; no one was getting angry,” he said. “Everyone was doing what they could to help out.”

Members of the hurricane coverage team for the Department of Orthopaedics: back row, from left, Paul Allegra, M.D., PGY 1; Erik Zachwieja, M.D., PGY 4; Akere Atte, M.D., PharmD, PGY 3; Chester Donnally, M.D., PGY 4: Evan Trapana, M.D., PGY 1.
Front row, from left,
Michael Hughes, M.D., PGY 5; Fernando Vilella, M.D. assistant professor of orthopaedics;
Karim Sabeh, M.D., PGY 5. Not pictured: Sebastian Rivera, M.D., MBA, PGY 2.

Hughes says his decision to pitch in is simply an extension of the commitment they learn as part of the surgical residency program. Even though he was initially assigned to report to the hospital as part of the “after” storm team, Hughes reported early to make sure he wouldn’t have any trouble getting to the hospital, a decision also made by many of his fellow residents.

“Everyone was pitching in and helping each other out,” said Hughes, who will be doing his fellowship next year in pediatric orthopaedic surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It is the nature of our program and a trickle down from our leaders, down to the senior and then the junior residents. We know what needs to be done, so we just get to work.”

Frank J. Eismont, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopaedics, said he is proud of the way his residents responded to the hurricane, and its aftermath.

“Our Jackson Memorial/University of Miami residents exhibit strong leadership both in our operating rooms and the community,” said Eismont, who is also a Leonard M. Miller Professor, the George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics, chief of the Orthopaedic Spine Service, and director of the Spine Fellowship Program. “We teach them to be the best possible advocates for patients, and this is a wonderful example of how they strive to make a difference.”



Tags: Department of Orthopaedics, Hurricane Irma, Orthopaedic surgery, UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital