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Chesterfield doctor saves lives from his living room

Dr. Steven Brown, of Mercy's Virtual Care Center, monitors patients in ICUs across the country

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — We've talked a lot about the frontline healthcare workers inside our hospitals, but did you know there are doctors working remotely to save lives? Dr. Steven Brown with Mercy hospitals is one of those heroes. He lives in Chesterfield, but every night he logs into dozens of ICUs across the country.

“I’m able to access patient medical records, including the laboratory tests and the notes by the doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists. I have complete video camera capability with cameras that are so sophisticated, I can zoom into the level of a hair follicle,” Dr. Brown explained.

Almost every day since the pandemic began, he logs onto a four-screen hub in his living room to monitor critical care patients at hospitals across the country.

“I'm taking care of about 100 people a night, mostly on ventilators, mostly with COVID. Half of them are younger than me and they go down into the 20s at this point,” he explained.

Credit: Dr. Steven Brown
Dr. Steven Brown at his living room hub where he monitors ICU patients.

Dr. Brown is 65 and is an attending physician with Mercy's Virtual Care Center. He estimates he's treated well over 1,000 patients in the last 10 months.

"Interactions have been challenging dealing with patients, many of whom are dying on me with every shift, sometimes multiple times per night,” he said.

Dr. Brown is in constant communication with respiratory therapists, nurses and doctors on-site. He monitors patient heart rates and oxygen saturation levels. He studies X-rays, and when needed, he can video remote into the ICUs.

In his four decades in practice, this pandemic has by far been the most challenging.

“I mean, this is all my experience. The past 40 years has prepared me for this pandemic, including working in New York City during the AIDs epidemic in the 80’s,” he said.

Dr. Brown has doubled his hours in the last 10 months and has put his retirement on hold. Still, he said he is not the hero.

“The heroes are the people who are staying home, who are doing the best they can to wear their masks and to distance. Those are the people who are really the heroes that are going to bring this pandemic to an end and the vaccinations,” he said.