After a 28-year career here at Rutland Regional, Dr. Harvey Reich has retired as Director of Critical Care.
Dr. Reich joined Rutland Regional in 1994 after a stint as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from 1987 through 1994. As his family grew, he and his wife began to look for a house to accommodate their needs; and they found themselves looking toward New England.
Dr. Reich interviewed for the critical care director which was a new position at the hospital. At the time, most critical care positions were in larger hospitals since it was a fairly new concentration (started in 1987). During the interview he liked what he saw, and he liked the possibilities of improvements he could implement in creating an ICU here.
“I was attracted to being able to try to create my version of what an academic critical care program could like in a community hospital versus going into a pre-formed program, which most large centers had,” he said.
By his own admission, it wasn’t easy in the beginning because the hospital had a different care model with predominantly private practice physicians. But over time, things changed, and people realized that he was brought on board to help doctors and their patients.
Dr. Reich has had many influences on his style of practice but he noted two in particular. Dr. Alan Michelson at Berkshire Medical Center, where Dr. Reich spent his residency, taught him how to get along with everybody and also to sharpen his political acumen. He credits Dr. Ake Grenvik, one of the founders of critical care, with influencing his outlook on medicine as a practice and to remain calm even in the most chaotic critical care environments.
“I've learned over the years, that if you are just calm and collected, no matter what the situation is, and just do what needs to get done, it gets done a lot faster and a lot easier with a lot less anxiety by everybody.” There was a “little bit of a learning curve” as he brought on his own style and processes for managing patients in the critical care unit. But the goal was to create a good system and model of care that will continue regardless of who is in the director’s seat.
Replacing Dr. Reich will be Christopher Yen, MD. According to Dr. Reich, Dr. Yen is “very well trained and an actual nice guy, which is good because I think he will fit in great here personality wise.” He continued, “I know Chris will do real well, and I have no qualms about leaving critical care in the ICU with him. It makes my life a lot easier knowing I'm leaving things in good hands.”
He credits Rutland Regional’s relatively small size and nimbleness with its success in not only treating patients but also in attracting top talent to the area. To his mind the hospital is more a medical center than a community hospital in that it provides pretty much every service found in larger hospitals but can make changes and react quickly when needed. Larger hospitals have more bureaucracy, limitations and political wrangling to deal with in order to make change.
“When I came in 1994 there wasn't any critical care but now it's a mature system that we have in place with full-time intensivists. We do have some pulmonary critical care physicians who do a split pulmonary and ICU. We have three advanced practice providers who are inhouse at night, who are critical care NPs and PAs. We have a mature system which works quite well; and for people that are coming from a bigger place to this little place, sometimes it's like "WOW" you do a lot and have a lot because you've been doing it for a long time.”
Dr. Reich is quick to credit the nurses he has worked with over the years in how the ICU has evolved and improved. Not only is the training important to patient care, but the longevity of service plays a role as well with nurses staying 20, 30, 40 years.
“Those nurses on the floor are the ones you count on, not just to take care of the patient but if something is off or something is going wrong, to pick that up and let you know so someone can intervene and not wait until a crisis situation hits.”
Dr. Reich also called out the Medical Staff Office team of Sarah McCuin and Stephanie Czachor (as well as Carol Lillegard who retired in 2020) for making sure that things got done and for providing critical administrative support.
“They were always willing to give a helping hand when really that wasn't their job to do. So, I do want to just actually say thank you.”
During the pandemic he noted the stress everyone was under in the ICU. Nursing “took it pretty hard,” especially when losing someone young to COVID.
Those who know Dr. Reich know that he enjoys a good “kidding” once in a while and is quick to throw in a humorous thought or two. So when asked what’s next in his retirement he quipped with a grin, “I’m going to clean out the tool shed at the camp. It’s very important. I’ve been trying to do that for the last two years.”
Beyond sorting tools, he plans to try to take a little time and relax, not worry, and catch up on sleep.
“Just take a little time to not work so much and breathe, practice sleeping to see if I can make four hours in one stretch, which would be a miracle. That may take some time to do, but that would be really nice. I decided at this point to just take it one day at a time and to not worry about it. And I'm really not, which is the best part. My wife's little car has a license plate which says "No ETA" on it. I think that's the motto that I'm taking now is, you know, the next day I'll just decide what I want to do. Why worry about it?”
Still with a grin on his face he shares that one of his greatest worries upon his retirement is who is going to take care of the coffee pot in the ICU. “Most important thing is to make sure the coffee pot in the ICU stays functional. Somebody needs to clean that counter and rinse it out at least a couple times a week because I'm not going to be here to do that any longer; and that's a very important part of ICU care, as far as I'm concerned.”