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Jessica Stoeckel, MD

Jessica Stoeckel, MD

Director, Intensive Care Unit
NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx

Battling COVID-19 at North Central Bronx

In the beginning of April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19 patients, Dr. Jessica Stoeckel – new to her role as Hospital Medical Intensive Care Unit Director at NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx – was on the night shift. “There was a 36-year-old previously healthy intubated patient with acute kidney injury, bilateral pneumothoraces and severe ARDS,” she recalled, grappling with a respiratory pandemic as a pulmonologist. “I stared at his telemetry and thought to myself if he walks out of the hospital then all of this stress, death and mayhem would be worthwhile.”

About a week later, the patient self-extubated and had a cardiac arrest. “We were able to resuscitate him, but I was severely concerned that he had anoxic brain injury,” said Dr. Stoeckel. “Two months later, I watched him walk out of acute rehab, and he is now home with his 2-year-old daughter.”

During the pandemic, Dr. Stoeckel stood up a new 20-bed medical intensive care unit and a 20-bed step-down unit amid the throes of the Delta variant surge, keeping all of the North Central Bronx critical care units continuously staffed with outstanding physicians, most of whom were new to the hospital because they were temporary surge doctors.

“I always pictured myself as a worker bee,” she said. When FEMA built a 100-bed ICU in her hospital, she rolled with it, knowing that through level-loading, the hospital was able to help other hospitals in the system be even slightly less overwhelmed.

“Dr. Stoeckel is a true health care hero who oversaw and directly participated in the care of approximately 60 critically ill patients tirelessly seven days a week,” said Michael Zinaman, North Central Bronx’s Chief Medical Officer. As a bonus to her many talents, like millions of everyday people in the pandemic, she picked up her baking and knitting skills.

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