Vladimir N. Despotovic, MD
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE
Associate Professor of Medicine
2023 Dean’s Impact Award Recipient
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vladimir N. Despotovic, MD, was at the bedside in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), selflessly dedicated to his patients. At the time, there were no established guidelines or consensus on best practices for management of critically ill individuals with COVID-19 infection. Despotovic and colleagues worked to translate suggestions and opinions into practice, critically evaluating them and innovating in order to ensure optimal patient outcomes. This included developing protocols for performing high-risk invasive procedures such as endotracheal intubation and bronchoscopy in highly infectious patients. The personal sacrifice and risk they assumed cannot be exaggerated, especially when considering that the risk of infection and natural history of the infection were not well characterized at the time. Whether it was caring for patients, researching and evaluating the latest treatment protocols, or educating his colleagues, Despotovic led by example. He took the time to advocate for and comfort his patients and their families, while supporting and consoling other caregivers who were traumatized by the suffering they had witnessed. It is difficult to imagine how the MICU could have functioned as well as it did without his presence. His many responsibilities included scheduling coverage, surge planning, protocol development and implementation, and coordination of care with other services. He confronted these challenges with a methodical and collaborative approach, resulting in improvements in care while accounting for provider well-being. Despotovic’s altruistic contributions to patient care, the community, and the well-being of our faculty and medical center staff cannot be overstated.