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His recipe for compassionate intensive care: Help others. Do better. Involve everyone

    His recipe for compassionate intensive care: Help others. Do better. Involve everyone

    Denton County Magazine

    September 18, 2023

    Years ago, when Dr. Dhruvangkumar Modi was completing his fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, he began a bronchoscopy by placing a towel on his anesthetized patient’s chest, followed by a saline syringe.

    He remembers the moment clearly because his supervising physician reprimanded him for the move — specifically, for using his patient as a table. The doctor reminded Modi to always treat patients with dignity, even if they are unconscious.

    It’s a lesson Modi has never forgotten, and it has influenced his work caring for patients and their families at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton in the intensive care unit. He has helped change the treatment and care of ICU patients and family members in Denton County and beyond by creating a model that has become an inspiration for other Texas Health hospitals in North Texas.

    ICU patients and their families often don’t see or know everyone on the medical team who come in and out of the patients’ rooms every day. Confusion, apprehension and the need to learn more can leave families and patients adrift.

    Modi solves that issue by deploying a multidisciplinary team in the ICU to address those problems and concerns. His protocol brings together the doctor, pharmacist, nurses, therapists (from physical, occupational and speech therapy, for example), nutritionist, case managers and hospital chaplain. They visit each patient’s room on a regular basis to discuss what’s going on and to talk to the patient and family members about what they need and want to know.

    Family input is an integral part of the treatment process. “It’s important,” Modi said. “And it’s comforting. We are seeing people during one of the worst times of their lives. They need to know what they’re facing, how we can help them and who is treating them, too. I serve as the quarterback, for example, and other team members are there to play their specific medical roles to help the patient and answer questions.”

    Modi’s multidisciplinary ICU team approach was well underway at the Denton hospital until COVID hit in 2020. The team is back now.

    A teaching hospital, Texas Health Denton emphasizes community care and patient safety. The multidisciplinary ICU team takes that to heart every day, with the support of its president, Jeff Reecer, and its chief medical and quality officer, Timothy Harris.

    “We need tools and funds to support our program, and our administration provides it because they see the value of this work,” Modi said. “Numerous innovative ICU protocols and procedures have been piloted and refined through our Denton hospital and then disseminated throughout other Texas Health hospitals. We’re very good at this process.”

    At Texas Health Denton, Modi serves as medical director of ICU and vice chief of medical staff. He also serves as vice chair of the Physician Leadership Council for Texas Health Resources. 

    Modi learned early in his life about caring for others and practicing compassion.

    “Getting interested in a career in medicine was simple for me,” Modi said. “My dad is a doctor, and my mother is a nurse. They work as a team in my dad’s rural clinic in India. I saw the collaboration, passion and drive they had to get patients better. Therefore, the choice was simple for me. And I chose to follow the nurturing, caring path my mother set as a service-oriented health caregiver.”

    After Modi earned his medical degree in India, he and his wife (who is also a physician) decided to come to the United States “to try something new.” They ended up in Birmingham, Alabama (he calls that state his American birthplace), where he spent three years working on his master’s degree in public health.

    After his residency in Illinois, where he became interested in critical care medicine, and a fellowship in Wisconsin, Modi eventually arrived in Texas and began practicing medicine in Denton and Dallas.

    While Modi spends 80 to 90% of his time at Texas Health Denton, he also works with the Methodist and Baylor systems as well as his practice, Dallas Pulmonary Critical Care PA, the largest critical care group in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

    “My goal is to do better every day,” Modi said. “It applies to me and to other members on our multidisciplinary ICU team. No limits! …That’s how we help patients and families, promote community care and approach patient safety.”


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