Health Care Hero: Dr. Joy Hughes


OXFORD, Miss. (WJTV) – New cases of Covid-19 seem to finally be on the way down in New York City, but it took a national effort to make it happen. A surgeon from Oxford spent two weeks at ground zero of Coronavirus in America. Dr. Joy Hughes is tonight’s Health Care hero.
When the first wave of Coronavirus cases crashed into America, elective surgeries stopped. Dr. Joy Hughes is double boarded in Critical Care and General Surgery. She practices in Oxford, but was soon on her way to the Bronx.

She says, “I have some personal and professional contacts in New York who were really struggling, and so I just did what I hoped anyone would do for us.” Dr. Hughes took more than just Mississippi medical know how to the Big Apple.

She says, “Cathead Distillery donated hand sanitizer. Oxford Paint Supply donated PPE equipment coveralls for me, so that was really encouraging. My husband watched our 2 girls for two weeks.” 

And what a two weeks it was!

Dr. Hughes remembers, “I went up to New York and worked essentially 90-100 hours a couple of weeks, and started a Surge ICU unit there to meet the capacity because they were overflowing with the need for ICU patients.”

Older equipment was pressed back into service, but in short order, Dr. Hughes and her colleagues were meeting the medical challenge of our time. To do that, she spent 12 hour shifts locked in an ICU with 8 people who were fighting for their lives.

She remembers, “These patients are the sickest patients that we’ve ever dealt with in critical medicine, and really, it’s every single one.”

And while we are still in the eye of the storm, Dr. Hughes is faithful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

She says, “Coming from a place where they were behind, just being to the point of treading water is a tremendous relief and it feels palpable there.”

But the fight is far from over.

Dr. Hughes concludes, “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and on down the road, I’m sure that there will be places that are desperate for health care again, and that will just have to be discussion between my husband and I whether or not we should answer that call again.”

Dr. Hughes has already done so much, already.
Dr. Hughes has resumed her surgical practice in Oxford. She says her first six meals in New York were pizza, and there were doughnuts, lots of doughnuts.

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