Professor, physician continues urgent care routine

By day, David Feldshuh is a professor of theatre in the Department of Performing and Media arts, but when he’s not at the Schwartz Center, four times a month, he dons his scrubs for shifts at Cayuga Medical Center’s Urgent Care Center, where he puts his M.D. degree to work seeing patients with all sorts of issues. 

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, he continues his work at Cornell (teaching through Zoom), as well as his shifts caring for patients. He has also volunteered in answer to the New York State call for healthcare workers to supplement caregiving during the current crisis.

“In Ithaca the disease is in control, at the moment. And, hopefully, it will stay that way,” Feldshuh said of his work at the center. “I’m totally impressed by my healthcare colleagues in Ithaca, in the region, in the Emergency Department, and at Cayuga Medical Center. And I’m in awe of all the caregivers in emergency medicine and critical care in New York City and large cities across the country. I know what’s it’s like to work emergency medicine in a big city ER. It’s always challenging and unpredictable. This situation is far beyond challenging. It’s a war, that can feel like a nightmare.”

Feldshuh, who graduated with a degree in philosophy from Dartmouth College, went on to earn his Ph.D. in theatre, as well as his medical degree, from the University of Minnesota. He completed a residency in Minneapolis and is board certified in emergency medicine, a specialty he has continued to practice for the past 35 years, along with his teaching and research at Cornell. Feldshuh is also the author of the 1992 play “Miss Evers' Boys,” based on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

Feldshuh said Cayuga Medical Center, just like Cornell and other institutions, has embraced technology to use telemedicine whenever possible and is abiding by appropriate isolation precautions.

“I’m anxious working in medicine, just like everyone else,” he said. “But ER and critical care healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics and EMTs, people who are close to the intubation process, are the caregivers who are significantly at risk. Those are the people we all, to the highest level of power in this country, must support without hesitation and with every resource we can find or make. Now.”

Photo of Feldshuh in scrubs provided by Feldshuh with the message: “Stay home, stay safe.”

Rays of Hope is an ongoing series of stories showing how Cornell faculty, staff, students and alumni are responding with creativity and kindness to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have suggestions for a person to feature, please email Kathy Hovis at kah53@cornell.edu.

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