Dr. Katie Passaretti

Coronavirus Updates | 3 years ago

Coronavirus from the Frontlines: Leading a Response

Atrium Health’s providers have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, caring for patients and supporting our communities. See how our medical director for infection prevention is leading the response to keep our community safe and informed.

Editor's Note: As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has evolved over the past several months, Atrium Health’s teammates have been on the frontlines, caring for our patients and providing essential assistance in their respective communities. It takes a united effort across our healthcare organization to make this happen, as our teammates still face the same challenges managing their personal lives that we all do. We’re all in this together. So, join us in recognizing these teammates for their ongoing efforts as they offer a look at the COVID-19 situation through their eyes.   

Packed into her office with more than a dozen TV and print news reporters, cameras and bright lights, Katie Passaretti, MD, medical director on infection prevention, gave one of the first extensive interviews regarding Atrium Health’s response to the COVID-19 situation, as North Carolina’s first positive case emerged in Raleigh in early March.

Dr. Passaretti hasn’t slowed down since, working with experts across Atrium Health to prepare and respond, fielding thousands of questions from teammates and physicians, as well as meeting with reporters and appearing on TV news programs. Dr. Passaretti has been a vital source of information and a calming presence, even as the response has required long hours and a “battle mentality.”

“It's long hours right now, but I do feel like it's for a worthy cause, so that kind of balances out the fatigue and feeling of being overwhelmed, which I think many people involved in this response are feeling,” she says. “Making sure people are safe and protected is at the top of everyone's mind and that's why every single decision is made.”

She chose to specialize in infection prevention because she liked the logic of infectious diseases and that there are treatments that can make people feel better. Dr. Passaretti says she was fortunate to have had a number of mentors who showed her the balance between clinical work and administrative work in infection prevention – something she appreciates.

But throughout her training and as she stepped into her career, she never expected to find herself on a team managing a global pandemic of this scale. “Pandemics are something you learn about, you plan for and think about, but it is a very different situation to actually be in the midst of it.”

And like everyone else, Dr. Passaretti is balancing all of her work with the responsibilities of her personal life.

Her husband travels frequently for work, so he’s now home all the time, but she’s at work more than ever dealing with the coronavirus response. Her morning routine has changed; instead of starting the day with exercise, she’s taking early-morning meetings. So, she tries to squeeze exercise in when she can for her physical and mental well-being.

Yet, she knows that she’s not alone in this.

“Everyone's lives are now different than ever before,” she says. “We're taking these measures, things are closed down that many people never thought would – air travel, restaurants and schools closed for weeks. These are all unprecedented events that have an emotional impact and social impact on families and individuals.”

After working full speed all day, Dr. Passaretti decompresses by keeping family close and priorities intact. That means exercising, eating healthy, trying to sleep when possible, spending time with loved ones and staying connected on a personal level.

Healthcare providers like Dr. Passaretti are a resource for patients, in and out of the hospitals and doctor’s offices. Whether you’re anxious about what’s going on or just want the latest information, visit our resource hub for coronavirus information and ways to get care from home. 



Read more: 

Coronavirus from the Frontlines: A Time to Jump In and Help

Coronavirus from the Frontlines: Ensuring Access to Care

Coronavirus from the Frontlines: Care for a High-Risk Population

Coronavirus from the Frontlines: Bringing the Comfort of Home to Skilled Nursing Facilities