Updated: May 2
Meeting Dr. Dacre Knight on social media was one of the catalysts for creating this podcast series, “Voices in the Pandemic.”
My hope was that more people could meet him and people like him to learn about their work and lives during this extraordinary time of the COVID-19 pandemic. His voice may not be the loudest or with messages designed as “click bait.” Still, it's an important one for more people to hear.
In early March 2020, I came across Dr. Knight on Twitter. I am a science geek and was obsessed with understanding this new virus hitting other parts of the world. I spent hours every night trying to gather a picture of what was happening. I saw he connected with news that the Mayo Clinic had record-time success in developing one of the first tests to determine if a patient had the COVID virus, and in another article on serology – using blood plasma from people recovered to help those sick.
As I caught his occasional posts, I could see that unlike some of the voices during this confusion, his input reflected a careful and objective eye. He is a scientist as well as a physician at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. It was a terrifying time with lots of news thrown around about bats and caves, how the spread of the virus was progressing in China and Italy, how COVID is different than the ordinary flu and the concern for enough PPE – personal protection equipment. Yet, through his lens it was like watching medical history unfold before my eyes.
Over time, I learned more about his background: he is the husband of a lovely wife and father to three little ones under the age of seven and an ex-Air Force officer who served in Afghanistan. He’s an expert on artificial intelligence in medicine and studied bio-defense. Like many doctors now, he is a COVID doctor. He also developed the first Virtual COVID Clinic at Mayo Clinic.
I approached him a couple months ago to see if he’d be open to talking on a podcast about his life and share his expertise. He gave an enthusiastic “yes.” Here are some of the questions we covered in our recent interview:
What’s life like in an epicenter of an illness we don’t know that much about, especially while having small children?
Will he send his own children to school there in Florida?
How does he cope with the stress?
Why would doctors now have to be concerned about pay cuts and losing their jobs?
What is he learning in all this as a person?
What are his hopes for our future?
I believe there are heroic people with values, integrity, and brilliance who live among us. They are not just in the movies. They see bigger pictures of life than many of us see. Dr. Knight feels like one of them. We need to learn and study their stories. I think you’ll find our talk informative as well as inspiring.
You can follow Dr. Knight on Twitter at: @KniDac
If you're interested in becoming a patient.
The two podcasts he recommended during our interview are:
Dr. Dacre Knight is a Senior Associate Consultant and Instructor in Medicine at Mayo Clinic Florida’s Department of General Internal Medicine. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in Tallahassee, FL. In 2001, he graduated magna cum laude with honors from Hampden-Sydney College, where he was also a member of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer team. He completed his Master's degree in Biodefense at George Mason University under the tutelage of Dr. Ken Alibek, the former First Deputy Director of the Soviet Union's biological weapons program. Dr. Knight completed medical school at St. George's University, and residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Following residency, he served in the US Air Force for four years as an internist. He deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months in 2017, covering the inpatient and ICU service at a Role III combat trauma hospital. He joined Mayo Clinic Florida in August 2019. During the period leading up to the pandemic, Dr. Knight had been the physician lead for Mayo Clinic’s Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Clinic. At the onset of the pandemic, he redeployed with two other providers to help establish a completely virtual COVID-19 clinic at Mayo Clinic Florida. His most recent publications include “Establishing Mayo Clinic's Coronavirus Disease 2019 Virtual Clinic: A Preliminary Communication” and “COVID-19 infection: Strategies on when to discontinue isolation, a retrospective study”. His specialty areas consist of consultative and diagnostic medicine for the medically complex patient, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and telemedicine, with interests in biodefense and artificial intelligence. He lives with his wife and three young children in Jacksonville, Florida.
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