The VOICE of UPMC Shadyside Winter 2020–2021

“At Shadyside, we feel there is nothing we cannot do.”

David Weber, MD
Chief, Infectious Diseases

David Weber has seen many momentous changes throughout his career as an infectious disease specialist, such as the evolution of AIDS from a universally fatal disease to what is now basically a chronic disease. He and UPMC Shadyside were prepared for the very contagious Ebola virus that emerged in 2014. 

“But nothing like COVID-19 has ever really hit us before,” says Dr. Weber, a former president of the Medical Staff. 

"There’s a long history of innovation here. People have not been afraid to do new things. I personally think this is one of the best hospitals there is and one of the safest hospitals there is."
- Dr. Weber

“That said, Shadyside is very good at meeting whatever challenges come along. Shadyside has always had great nurses. There’s a long history of innovation here. People have not been afraid to do new things. I personally think this is one of the best hospitals there is and one of the safest hospitals there is. We feel there is nothing we cannot do.

“When COVID emerged, we knew very little about it,” Dr. Weber continues. “Some was known from China, although we weren’t sure how much we could believe and how much we couldn’t believe. When other states were hit much harder, much earlier than we were, such as New York, we had time to learn from their experience before it really hit hard here. We learned from the CDC as well.

“At the beginning, I think we were all somewhat scared. But at some point you have to try and put the science above your fears. My initial fear was that the hospital would be overwhelmed. That did not happen, and I believe it will not. We even had UPMC people who traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C., to help out there.

“I have continued to see COVID patients in the hospital. I didn’t think it was fair or right to ask the nurses to go in and take care of patients if the infectious disease doctor does not also go in and see the patient. If it’s safe enough for the nurses, it should be safe enough for us.

“Although we have learned a lot about how to manage COVID, it is ongoing. The risk is still out there. But there are a number of things we’ve observed that we can all learn from. People who use their personal protective equipment correctly don’t seem to get this virus. The vast majority of all cases seem to be transmitted directly from person to person. In the hospital, if you are appropriately cautious and use your PPE correctly, you’re going to be okay. Outside the hospital, wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain appropriate physical distancing.”