New York urologist: At the epicenter, optimism reigns

"Through all this, I have never been more optimistic that together we will be stronger both in the urologic community and the medical community as a whole," writes Steven A. Kaplan, MD.

Dr. Kaplan, a member of the Urology Times Editorial Council, is professor of urology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

New York has, unfortunately, become the epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States. The number of cases and deaths have increased astronomically, albeit hospitalizations to date seem to be less than projected. Unfortunately, like the rest of the country, we think our peak is coming soon, which is why you're seeing in many states that 100% of the work force is being asked to stay home.

The incredible changes in such a short period of time have impacted virtually every aspect of our lives and, from a medical perspective, have created enormous pressure on our health personnel and resources. From the urology perspective, except for urgent cases, there has been a virtual shutdown.

The pandemic has also had a major effect on urology research. Non-essential administrative staff, students, and post-docs are being asked to work from home, and to remotely access whatever they need to access. Wet research labs are being shut down to eliminate exposure and personnel interaction; only critical animal experiments are being conducted and completed. From a clinical research perspective, which involves patient recruitment, that's being essentially shut down and stopped until further notice.

I think what we've learned is in times like this is the value of cross-functional collaboration. This is manifesting in real time as we hear reports of new diagnostic testing and potential therapies for COVID-19. In these challenging times, it’s been heartening to witness the worldwide community working together, for the most part, to come up with cures. The message for us is the need to collaborate and communicate, because we will be stronger when all our verticals within the research community work together to come up with new discoveries.

Through all this, I have never been more optimistic that together we will be stronger both in the urologic community and the medical community as a whole.