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Dr. Adam Mora: From the Board Room to the Front Lines

A DCT Hero Salute

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage our country and state, it’s comforting to know that we do have heroes among us; selfless citizens who go above and beyond just to help keep our community moving forward. DCT Board Member Dr. Adam Mora is one of those people.

Not all heroes wear capes, headpieces, bullet-deflecting rings and bracelets, or carry swords and laser guns. Some of today’s heroes wear Personal Protective Equipment and grim, concerned expressions on their faces. They are the frontline healthcare workers who face life and death on a daily basis as the world battles the insidious coronavirus.

Dr. Adam Mora, Jr., MD, FCCP, probably doesn’t even consider himself to be a hero, but he is one. Dr. Mora is a Dallas pulmonologist and intensivist affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Baylor University Medical Center – Dallas, Baylor Scott, White Heart, and Vascular Hospital – Dallas. A pulmonologist specializes in the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the lungs, while an intensivist specializes in treating patients in intensive care. Dr. Mora’s work is vital in the battle against COVID-19. He works day and night and hasn’t had a day off since March 21. Even if he is free of clinical duties, there are virus related administrative duties that occur each day, even on weekends. He is never free of COVID.

Caring for patients on ventilators and addressing all forms of organ failures and infections while ensuring appropriate care with end-of-life issues carries a heavy toll.

“Before, families would be at bedsides and participate in rounds, learn basic medical information and what was normal or abnormal for their loved one, have consistent information from monitors, nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists all walking into a room and updating the family. They could pop their heads out of a room and ask questions. Now, they have to rely on phone calls and are limited to brief updates. Some cannot imagine what is actually happening – especially if they have never been in an ICU or seen a ventilator or continuous dialysis machine, for example,” said Dr. Mora. “We now have to paint a picture with our words as best we can.”

There is also the issue of trying to make time for his own family. Dr. Mora, along with his wife, Leah, have two children, Laurel (18) and Alex (11).

“Life at home has been an adjustment for everyone beginning with shelter in place,” said Mrs. Mora. “The biggest concern has focused on the longer hours Adam is away and the interruptions with a greater influx of meetings, phone calls, emails and texts, even when he is home. The biggest adjustments initially were related to ensuring the children felt safe with Dad coming home and doing everything possible to 1) not get infected or sick, and 2) not bringing COVID home and endangering them.”

Mrs. Mora takes pride in how her husband has risen to the challenge of these dire times.

“His dedication to ensuring the best care despite new obstacles to his workflow, as well as ensuring that a patient’s dignity and family support is maintained as much as possible, means everything,” she said. “He has taken on more tasks to ensure work processes are secured and has fought for communication with patients and their families – especially when related to end of life.” 

As the virus continues to grow, it’s difficult for the Mora’s to keep a normal family life. Both continue their service to Dallas Children’s Theater as members of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Mora even squeezed in a moment between patients to film an appearance on DCT’s Mouse Calls with Milo video series, dispensing important words about the importance of wearing masks and other safety precautions during the presence of COVID. (If you’d like to see Dr. Mora with Milo click here. )

“Basically, I have no other outlets,” says Dr. Mora. It’s work and home. I focus on our family and presently in helping our daughter transition to college in NYC amid the pandemic. We owe much of her success to DCT as her years spent there helped her achieve her acceptance to Fordham Lincoln Center’s playwriting program.” 

One of the main ways COVID has impacted the workflow of health care workers is the coldness that comes with wearing all of the Personal Protective Equipment creating even more distance between the doctor and the patient. The demand for teamwork and flexibility has increased exponentially, and personal fears of infection have to be overcome to care for extremely sick individuals. Healthcare workers are facing exhaustion physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, yet they continue to show up even when their own are battling the virus. Dr. Mora said the most difficult part is seeing patients die alone and speaking with families who are suffering and cannot be comforted other than with a distant phone call. 

As the pandemic  rages in Texas, many frontline healthcare workers battle fatigue, anxiety and depression. What gets him through the long days, the punishing work, the emotional challenges?

“We look to our successes – who leaves the ICU, who gets liberated from the ventilator – as big wins,” said Dr. Mora. “This is the most affirming part of the work to combat depression. I try each day to find a positive from COVID, be it more time spent at home having intimate family dinners rather than going out to a noisy restaurant, being able to take meetings from my home or office in more casual dress, or just accepting that I am still capable of being flexible and adapting to new challenges.”

The Mora family has been personally affected by the virus. Mrs. Mora lost a cousin in California. Her parents were infected, and her mother required hospitalization in El Paso. “It has hit home and the frustrating part is the inability to help out my own family due to geography,” said Mora. “I am here helping hundreds, but am impotent to help my own family. This does take a toll.”

He’s decked out in life-saving gear of impermeable isolation gowns and coveralls, gloves, face shields, goggles and N95 respirators, but Dr. Mora still resembles a superhero. He certainly shows bravery and courage as he goes daily into battle helping to save the world. One patient at a time.

Written by Coy Covington 

Coy is in his eleventh year as Executive Administrator at Dallas Children’s Theater. He is also an accomplished actor, director, wig and hair designer and freelance writer.

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