Manish Patel (right) prepares for a procedure with a colleague.

Neighbors on the Front Line

Ballantyne residents serve the Charlotte community in essential medical roles

By Allison Parker

Below is a glimpse at some of our Ballantyne neighbors active within health care. They go into work not knowing what the day will bring. We appreciate and thank them all.

Manish Patel

Manish Patel is a urologist and reconstructive surgeon who commutes more than 60 miles to his hospital facility in Camden, South Carolina. Manish worked in the Ballantyne area for 15 years before deciding to provide specialty care to remote and rural areas. The patients Manish serves do not have access to common specialties such as radiology, intensive care and infectious disease. He and the other available physicians must help each other in any way possible.

Recently, Manish performed surgery on several COVID-19 confirmed or presumed patients. Manish notes, “We have to help in any way we can. Viruses do not know our race, gender, socioeconomic status or our access to health care. Our need for supplies and protective equipment is as critical as any major metropolitan area so we can deliver the best care in the safest way possible.”

Kelly Sapyta

Kelly Sapyta is a registered nurse who works at Novant Main on the Women’s Special Maternity Care Unit. She takes care of high risk antepartum and postpartum moms. Regarding COVID-19, Sapyta shares, “I think that for most of us, our biggest fear is bringing the virus home to our families. I think it’s important to remember that although people have the virus, they are still people with families that need our help. I want them to be treated how I would want my family treated. As nurses, it’s our job not to just medically take care of the patients but show compassion, advocate, cheer them on and listen to them, especially now. It’s a scary time, but we are all learning as we go.”

Kelly Sapyta
James Rachal
Craig Davis
Melissa Davis
Hajira Rana with a newborn prior to COVID-19

Hajira Rana

Hajira Rana works for the Children’s Hospital Inpatient Service at Levine Children’s Hospital (LCH). She is a pediatrician in the newborn nursery at both LCH and Atrium Pineville Hospital. Regarding the current situation, Hajira reflects, “Newborns continue to deliver at the same rate as before. Mothers and babies still require the same amount of attention and medical care at the hospital. With proper protective equipment, health-care workers like myself can continue to show up to care for our patients. With ongoing concerns for safety and spreading of the virus, we have strict protocols in place to help minimize spread between health-care workers, mothers and newborns. Certain necessary changes have been made, including the restriction of visitors to the maternity unit. “

Hajira adds, “Despite the anxiety circulating during this pandemic, bringing a child into this world is still one of the most exciting moments in a parent’s life! I feel very lucky to be a part of that.”

Melissa and Craig Davis

Balancing work-family roles during COVID-19 is a challenge many of us share. For pediatric nurse practitioner Melissa Davis and her husband, pediatrician Craig Davis, the current situation has them assisting in many ways at Providence Pediatrics. Melissa is seeing patients on a virtual platform with Levine Children’s Hospital while Craig is hands-on with patients at the office.

Craig explains, “We are continuing to deliver effective and timely but also safe pediatric care in this challenging and unprecedented time. This has included implementing strategic changes to office operations and staffing as well as offering pediatric care in many novel ways. Video, telephone and car visits are a few examples of how we have aimed to continue to provide excellent pediatric care while still striving to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus by obeying recommended social distancing and hygiene measures.”

James Rachal

James Rachal is dual certified in family medicine as well as psychiatry. With his qualifications, James can jump in and assist multiple teams when the need is great. He is part of an everchanging environment at work of long hours and many unknowns. James is thankful for all the medical staff’s help from the nurses to the clinical, technical and patient support staff.

Britt Christmas

Britt Christmas

While many elective surgeries are on hold, accidents, injuries and other critical illnesses continue to occur on their own schedule. Acute care surgeon Britt Christmas works for Atrium Health. His multifaceted team functions not only to handle emergency operative procedures but also provides regional trauma coverage. Their diverse training enables them to assist as critical care intensivists. He doesn’t see himself as a hero but as a fellow human being working diligently with his team to employ their skill set in whatever capacity is needed to serve the Charlotte region. He shares further thoughts in his recent message to the membership of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) for which he serves as president.