Staff Report • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Bassett Healthcare Network announced last week that Erik Riesenfeld is the 2021 recipient of the Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award.
Riesenfeld, is the medical director of respiratory therapy at Bassett Medical Center. Physicians are nominated for the Franck Award as a recognition for demonstrating “extraordinary service to patients, students, colleagues and the community – traits that emulate the career of retired Bassett rheumatologist Walter A. Franck.”
Network physicians vote to choose the final recipient.
Riesenfeld’s extraordinary leadership during the COVID-19 crisis resulted in his award, the release said.
“On behalf of the entire BMC critical care team, Dr. Riesenfeld deserves the Walter A. Franck Award for his unwavering commitment to outstanding patient care,” said one colleague in the written nomination. “He and his critical care colleagues performed in a heroic manner by putting their own lives at risk to save their patients. He is an excellent communicator, team player, educator and role model to residents and colleagues.”
“This recognition is very humbling,” Riesenfeld said in a media release. “I feel like I am receiving it on behalf of others – leaders who rebuilt the hospital to accommodate as many patients as possible, nurses who risked their lives to stay at their patients’ bedsides, respiratory therapists who made rounds day and night to save lives, and the environmental services staff who cleaned and sterilized. Everybody made a remarkable effort for our patients.”
In addition to working with respiratory therapists in critical care, Riesenfeld was a co-investigator in Bassett’s clinical trials of various possible COVID-19 therapies.
“The pandemic suddenly accelerated the pace of the medical field,” Riesenfeld said. “We have to quickly adapt to follow the scientific evidence. Our understanding and our strategies evolved week-to-week. That was exciting.”
“This has been a hard time – you can’t come out of it feeling great,” he continued. “A lot of people have suffered and died. It was truly horrible. But on the other hand, I’m very proud of what we did. We rose to the occasion and served our community.”
The award is among the network’s highest honors, according to a media release from Bassett.