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Who was that masked man or woman?

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Often you never see their full faces, but they are there in your pre-op room, by your side throughout surgery, and when you wake up they are still with you monitoring your every breath. You probably would not recognize them on a street or in a restaurant.

Who are they? They are the in-hospital caregivers who make up the team of physician anesthesiologists and certified nurse anesthetists.

The anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who, after medical school and internship, has chosen to specialize in anesthesiology. All anesthesiologists have at least three years of training after medical school; most have four years, and a few have more. It is the anesthesiologist's job to keep you safe and comfortable during surgery and recovery from anesthesia. Once you enter the operating room, the anesthesiologist never leaves your side until you are safe and stable in the post-anesthesia care unit.

The anesthesiologist always monitors your heart rhythm, blood pressure, the amount of oxygen in your blood, temperature and your level of consciousness. When patients are completely asleep (under a general anesthetic), the anesthesiologist monitors each breath by measuring the volume of breath exhaled and the amount of carbon dioxide in each breath.

In some cases, the anesthesiologist may monitor the amount of blood your heart is pumping and the blood pressure inside your lung vessels.

A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to have my gall bladder removed. This surgery was much different than the emergency appendectomy I had last year, and thankfully Dr. Erik Stancofski was my surgeon again! As I was being prepped for my outpatient same-day surgery, I was greeted by anesthesiologist Dr. Stephen Fanto, wearing a medical mask. His demeanor was kind, and he reviewed a laundry list of questions making sure I was ready for my surgery, and more importantly, ready to be placed under anesthesia. As he was talking, I could see anesthesiologist Dr. Thomas Kelly in the background, also wearing a medical mask, talking to another patient. It then came to me that he was the last face I saw when I had my emergency surgery last year, and I never had the chance to say thank you! How grateful we all should be that we have a team of anesthesiologists who care for us before, during, and after surgery.

Beebe Healthcare is full of countless faces, masked and unmasked, who care for patients every day, conducting over 13,000 surgeries a year! I know, like many others in our community, I am grateful for their commitment, and the professional and excellent care they deliver.

Having two surgeries in less than a year was not on my bucket list, but I can tell you it was made much easier by the Beebe team members who devote their lives to caring for others. The Beebe hands logo is so familiar to everyone, but what it really represents is the highly qualified and caring hands of Beebe team members. And, I was in the good hands of Beebe Healthcare team members once again!

As I was in the recovery room, another masked anesthesiologist — Dr. Igor Kirzhner — came over and said hello. And once again, as a grateful patient, I was thankful for the excellent care. That is why I choose to make another donation to the Beebe Medical Foundation's Celebrate Excellent Care program.

I wanted to make a gift in honor of all the anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. A very special thank you to all the members of Delaware Anesthesia Associates who have loyally supported Beebe Medical Foundation every year with their generous sponsorships of the Beebe Ball and Beebe Beach Bash! And an extra-special thank you to all the anesthesiologists who are 1916 Club members, donating $1,916 or more to the Beebe Medical Foundation every year.

Their faces might be shrouded by medical masks, but they are friendly and generous faces that should be thanked and appreciated. So, the next time you have surgery, take time to say thank you and be a grateful patient and make a gift in their honor. More than likely, you will not bump into your anesthesiologist in public!

To make a donation in honor of a Beebe Team member, go to and select "Celebrate Excellent Care" or call 302-644-2900. As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe continues to depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations.

All gifts, large or small, to Beebe Healthcare are tax deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation.

Please consider making a gift today and share your amazing stories with our community.

Copyright 2016 Cape Gazette, Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: May 24, 2016

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