The dictionary defines a hero as a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. In mythology and folklore, it’s a person of superhuman qualities.
Our world saw many heroes emerge throughout 2020, particularly when it came to issues surrounding the pandemic. One of those heroes is a graduate of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM).
BSOM class of 2000 alum, Steven Dale Burdette, M.D., FIDSA, FACP, is chief of infectious diseases and professor of internal medicine at BSOM, and medical director of antimicrobial stewardship and infection with Premier Health Miami Valley Hospital. He has demonstrated to many around him his ability to be outstanding, possibly even superhuman, especially during the pandemic.
As an infectious disease expert in the Dayton area, Burdette has been extremely involved and sought-after in helping fight COVID-19 locally. In recognition of his efforts and hard work, Burdette was chosen as one of 11 physicians in the state of Ohio to receive the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) inaugural COVID-19 Warrior Hospital Hero Award for 2020. Burdette received the award this past December.
The award was created by Debra Leizman, M.D., FACP, chair of the Ohio awards committee for the Ohio chapter of the ACP, and an internal medicine physician in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a way to recognize physicians in the state who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. According to the call for nominees letter from Leizman to the Ohio ACP chapter, “The award seeks to honor an internist who contributed to their hospital or academic community by engaging, participating and/or developing successful programs, which allowed them and others in their institution to care for COVID-19 patients.”
Burdette was nominated for the award by Glen Solomon, M.D., chair and professor of the internal medicine and neurology department at BSOM. “During the past months, Steve has worked tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients and establish policies and protocols for their management,” shared Solomon from his nomination letter. “While working seven days a week on COVID-19 care, Dr. Burdette has continued to teach, write and perform research.”
Throughout his career, Burdette has been credited with developing nearly a half dozen major programs for many of the Dayton area hospitals. In response to COVID-19, he created a high-risk respiratory unit and established the infection control policies for COVID-19 for Miami Valley Hospital. He also established an antimicrobial stewardship program at each of the Premier Health sites in the Dayton region. In 2018, Miami Valley Hospital was recognized as an Infectious Diseases Society of America Center of Excellence. He also established an infectious diseases service for employees at Kettering Health’s Greene Memorial Hospital, in Xenia, Ohio. Burdette was the chair of the infection control committee, which provided expertise for treatment and prevention to hospital employees in the case of occupational exposures to infectious diseases.
Burdette has held nearly 20 professional appointments during his career at BSOM and in the Dayton area hospital systems, including currently, medical director of infection prevention for Premier Health’s Miami Valley Hospital. He also served as medical director of infectious diseases for Kettering Health’s Greene Memorial Hospital, and medical director for the Greene County, Ohio, Tuberculosis Clinic.
Burdette is involved nationally, regionally and locally with many clinical groups and committees. On a national level, his involvement includes the Infectious Diseases Society of America, as a member of the editorial advisory board and chair of the centers of excellence subcommittee. At the state level, he has served the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Chapter of the ACP. Locally he serves as a member of the board governance structure committee for Wright State Physicians and was chair of infection control for Kettering Health’s Greene Memorial Hospital and Soin Medical Center.
Burdette has been very active with Life Connection of Ohio, serving this organization in several different capacities over the years; he is currently the board president. Life Connection of Ohio is a Dayton area nonprofit that promotes and facilitates organ donation in northwest and west central Ohio.
In 2020, along with the COVID-19 Warrior Hospital Hero Award, Burdette earned the BSOM Department of Internal Medicine Chair’s Award for Excellence. This award recognized Burdette for everything he has done for BSOM, the internal medicine department, and the community in the fight against COVID-19.
Even with his commitments to the COVID-19 fight, patient care, program development and multiple professional appointments, Burdette maintains his dedication to educating future physicians as a professor of medicine for BSOM. He credits his clinical experiences, including those he received as a medical student at BSOM, to helping him be a successful instructor. “To me, the best teachers many times are the doctors who are at the bedside, making clinical decisions on a daily basis. Nothing beats clinical experience,” said Burdette. Due to COVID-19 and higher clinical volumes, teaching has been different this year. “You have to be creative, look for unique teaching opportunities and be efficient in the time you have with students and residents.”
After earning his Doctor of Medicine from BSOM, Burdette remained with BSOM to complete his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in infectious diseases. He credits BSOM for helping him get where he is today in his career. “BSOM trained me to provide excellent patient care, and provided me the leadership skills to take active roles in guiding care at many facilities over the years.”
When asked about the COVID-19 virus, Burdette says “Masking and social distancing work if people practice it 100 percent of the time. It only takes one time to put yourself in a social situation without a mask to get infected. Keep your guard up and stay vigilant.”
“Though it will still be a few more months before we see our old way of life, I am excited and encouraged about the huge impact of the vaccines.” He added, “None of the currently approved vaccines are live viral vaccines, so people cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.”
Since COVID-19, Burdette says, “I went seven months without a day off, seven days a week reviewing charts and guiding patients, treatments. My normal day doubled in work load. It has been exhausting.” Seeing patients, leading programs, teaching and volunteering, all while caring for COVID-19 patients and developing COVID-19 treatment programs is definitely admirable and outstanding, and defines a physician worthy of being labeled a hero.