Doctor with Local Roots Says “Stay Positive” in the Midst of COVID-19

By Mary Klaus

Originally published 2/12/21

          Dr. Josh Glick sees the glass as half full.

          Glick, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, has been dealing with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. He says there’s no miracle drug to cure it but urges people to have a positive attitude.

          “COVID has been terrible and scary for the entire world,” admits Glick, who grew up in the Harrisburg area and graduated from the then-Yeshiva Academy and Hershey High School. “But there’s an end in sight, so stay positive.”

          Staying positive is a way of life for Glick, son of Dr. Mark Glick and Dr. Maggie Grotzinger, ever since he was growing up in the Harrisburg Jewish community and attending Chisuk Emuna.

          He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, attended Penn State University for medical school, then went back to the University of Pennsylvania for four years of residency, then had three years of practice.

          Inspired by various role models – Glick lists his parents as the most important – and guided by a philosophy that it’s important to spend time with each patient to get his or her story, Glick combines gentle caring with strong medical skills to help his patients.

Over the past year, he’s been very involved with fighting the pandemic. He said that Emergency Departments are overwhelmed with patients, who have to endure long waits to be seen.

“We are getting crushed by all the work we have to do,” Glick said. “We don’t want you to sit and suffer, but we don’t have space to take care of you right away. There’s nothing we can do to see people faster. Our wait times in Philadelphia are high, up to six or eight hours, and wait times in Harrisburg are high, too.”

His hospital, like so many these days, have beds in hallways for patients. Some families get angry when they are told they can’t stay with the patient. Glick says he understands.

“We don’t want to separate families,” he said, “but we do it out of pure safety. I promise that I will call them with any updates and will do absolutely everything in my power to take care of them and show them the love and respect I would show my own parent or grandparent. Some people vent, yell at us, and leave negative reviews. It hurts us, too, but it’s part of the world we live in now.”

In addition to treating COVID patients, Glick has been one himself. He got COVID-19 in April and spent four days with an oxygen level of only 85 percent.

“I lost a good bit of weight and got fairly deconditioned,” he said. “It took a full one to two months until I was back to my normal functional status. I made sure to take it easy, slowly built back up, got lots of rest, stayed hydrated, listened to my body, and didn’t rush things. Patience was the key.”

Ironically, he said, his 93-year-old grandfather was diagnosed with COVID and had no symptoms. Since then, Glick has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Glick said doctors are trying “our absolute hardest to help patients. There’s no magic bullet to cure COVID. I wish there was. Sometimes, there’s nothing for me to prescribe to make you feel better. It will just take time and that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.”

          Calling himself a “scrawny Jewish boy,” Glick described his fairly recent work as visiting team medical liaison with the Philadelphia Eagles and game day rink-side emergency medicine provider for the Philadelphia Flyers.

          For the Eagles, he helps the visiting team navigate medical care if a player or staff member needs care. For the Flyers, he responds to medical emergencies of players or staff. He admitted to having plenty of opinions about both sports.

          “I work with two neurosurgeons,” he said. “We keep a running commentary on the sideline to each other!”

          Working as a doctor these days can be quite stressful, Glick admitted.

          “As an attending physician, I bear the emotional burden of my patients, nurses, medical students, and residents,” he said. “You see it in their eyes. It’s been emotional and hurts me in a way I never really experienced.”

He admitted to stepping aside and crying when he needs to “because that releases emotions and is cathartic.” He also has learned not to bring his work home to East Falls. Instead, he said, he and his wife go hiking or spend time baking and cooking.

Glick also likes to read science fiction, play board games, build models, play his guitar, run, go rock climbing, swim, and ride his bike.

He admits that hobbies and family life were out of balance during residency, but that he is not continuing that trend. “Now, I try to use my time at home in ways that make me happy.”

Like most Americans, Glick longs for a return to pre-COVID normalcy.

“I think that life will get back to a quasi-normal state by early fall, when much of the country has been vaccinated,” he said, adding that traveling, eating out, going to concerts, and sports events should be safer options by the end of the year.

“I think we all will be a little more wary come flu season,” he said. “I think you will see a significant number of people wearing masks in highly public places for a very, very long time.”

When asked, he said he favors the option to vaccinate as many people as possible without holding back second doses “because I think vaccine production can keep up. The distribution network has been the problem. Basically, the more people we can vaccinate, the better. Stay strong, the end is in sight.”