CPM Husband and Wife Alumni Tackling Frontlines of COVID-19 and Parenthood in NYC
Dr. Kelly Rogers says she and her husband Brandon make a pretty solid team. The pair sat side by side through four challenging years of podiatry school at the College of Podiatric Medicine (CPM), lovingly supporting and pushing each other through to the end of their journey in 2019, when they both graduated with honors to become Doctors of Podiatric Medicine. Nearly one year and two children later, those promises of better days ahead are still exchanged, now beneath masks in their quick swap of residency shifts at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in Queens, New York where they serve on the frontline caring for COVID-19 patients.
It’s no secret that once bustling NYC was hit hard with the virus, and Kelly refers to Queens as the “epicenter of the epicenter”. All podiatric medicine residents were quickly mobilized to cover the ever-expanding wards in her hospital. New units are constantly opening, with ambulatory surgery, post-anesthesia care units, and even conference rooms now housing rows of stretchers to accommodate COVID-19 patients.. As for the Rogers’ schedule, they’re living on a week-to-week basis, which generally comes in the form of three overnight shifts, and two to three 12-hour day shifts to care for COVID-19 patients in addition to podiatry consult and emergency foot and ankle surgeries. Kelly says there were times when she was assigned 30 COVID patients to manage at once. Of course, they’re not alone. Kelly reports that it’s all hands on deck: recently, they’ve been working alongside Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and traveling RNs from all over the country.
Given the rapidly ever-changing climate, Kelly says managing COVID patients can be overwhelming. “One of the most difficult things I’ve had to do was to call a family to inform them of the death of their loved one. The exact reason I avoided a different medical specialty,” she says. Another reason the Rogers chose podiatry together is to enjoy a sense of work-life balance, which the pair strive for at the end of each shift when the white coats come off and they take on another very important job – parents to Riley, two and a half, and Theo, 8 months. Kelly isn’t shy to admit that home life is incredibly hectic in their small NYC apartment nowadays, even with the help of an au pair. Rather than enlisting family to care for the children an hour away in New Jersey, the Rogers made a difficult decision to self-isolate, being mindful of the fact that they could spread a virus to which they are likely already exposed, to outside family members. Kelly says childcare is tough with the long hours, but the sweet faces of her children are her daily reminder to look ahead and work for the future that she and Brandon envisioned.
At the end of the day, Kelly says the hardest task really is the one at hand, “Once you survive it and look back, it doesn’t seem so bad after all”. For now, she’s taking life one step at a time and rewarding herself for small accomplishments. Her advice to current CPM students is to continue to work hard now, but remember to look to the future as well, especially when considering residency programs. “The culture and level of support from a program and its director make a big difference,” Kelly advises. Thankfully, their hospital allows the Rogers to take alternating shifts, with one on during the day, and the other at night to accommodate their childcare needs.
It’s been said throughout this crisis that we as a nation should keep our eyes to the future and focus on silver linings to remain grateful and grounded. Dr. Kelly Rogers- wife, mother of two, and now frontline COVID care provider- seems to have found hers.
“This reality is hard to accept, but I know that the title we worked so hard for, has doctor in it first. Podiatric Medicine is our pride and passion, but for now, we are trading in the scalpel for the stethoscope. As podiatrists not only are we making an impact on patient care, but we are gaining parity for our profession.”