Juliane Bubeck-Wardenburg, MD, PhD
DEPARTMENT OF PEDIATRICS
Donald B. Strominger Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
2023 Dean’s Impact Award Recipient
When the COVID-19 emergency hit and scenes from New York dominated the news, Juliane Bubeck-Wardenburg, MD, PhD, began to plan for a worst-case scenario in St. Louis, envisioning a pediatric COVID-19 unit that could provide intensive care to dozens of sick children. Pediatric intensive care leaders around the country were doing the same, but Bubeck-Wardenburg developed a unique, masterful approach. She recognized that if COVID-19 cases overwhelmed our hospital system, physicians could be redeployed in any number of unfamiliar spaces. In a stroke of administrative genius, she set up her unit so that physicians of nearly any skill set could safely work. She enlisted pediatric anesthesia to perform all intubations and airway management and pediatric surgery to place the central lines. She created a schedule that guaranteed an intensivist in-house at all times for backup and assistance, provided training resources for covering physicians, arranged a sign-up schedule and offered compensation. She had the team program an Epic location for the unit, then developed a specific order set, streamlined note templates, and created a step-by-step manual with everything a covering physician would need: day and night shift instructions, who was to call the primary care physician — the sort of details that are easy to overlook and that aren’t appreciated except in their absence. As a result of her efforts, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital COVID-19 unit could accommodate redeployed physicians with just about any level of clinical skill without compromising patient safety and while reducing uncertainty and stress on the provider team.