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Getting to know Dr. Duane Williams, chief of critical care medicine at CHoR
April 16, 2024
Dr. Duane Williams putting on PPE in the CHoR PICU

    Dr. Duane Williams – often referred to as “Dr. D” around the halls of CHoR – was previously a physician in our PICU. After a few years out of state, there was a collective cheer upon learning he’d be returning to Virginia last September as chief of critical care medicine in the new Children’s Tower. As a doctor and a dad, caring for kids is his specialty.

    “I am grateful to be back at CHoR and I hope to serve our kids and our team well,” said Dr. Williams.

    We asked Dr. Williams several questions to learn more about him and why he chose to return to CHoR

    Dr. Duane Williams headshotWhen you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    An astronaut

    Why did you end up pursuing a career in pediatric critical care medicine?

    I was involved with a code blue as a second-year resident. Gratefully, the kid did well, but it was a very hard experience. Following the event, I told myself, “Critical care is off the list.” Then during my chief year, I had a sick kiddo that I was looking to manage and eventually one of my intensivists (and mentors) at the time said to me, “Duane, you have done all you can for them. They need to be in the ICU.” Then I watched him care for this kid and help him get better. It was at that point I wanted to learn how to take care of a child (and family) when they were at their sickest and be present to help them get through that time.

    How long were you at CHoR previously and why did you choose to return?

    I was at CHoR from 2013-2018. I returned because of the opportunity to serve alongside people I missed and a community who looked to their children’s hospital to be better with each tomorrow – and see the children’s hospital respond accordingly.

    Has the Children’s Tower impacted how your team cares for kids?

    I think the care we provide is very similar, but the means to do so have been, for lack of a better word, “amped up.” Our amazing critical care team now serves children in a 24-bed intensive care unit supported by a facility built for children, which allows us to truly enhance our capabilities to serve families. From conveniences such as our own cafeteria and Ronald McDonald space to clinical specifics such as a larger pediatric ED, larger pediatric operating room and new pediatric focused trauma bay, to name a few, we are able to enrich what we have always done for the kids we serve.

    What are your goals for the PICU and your team in the months and years ahead?

    This isn’t a short answer, but to sum it up I hope for our team to:

    • Keep what’s best for the kids of Virginia as our first priority.
    • Take care of the people who are taking care of people.
    • Hold ourselves accountable for the care we provide.
    • Push ourselves (safely) to be better with each tomorrow.

    What do you want patients and families to know about you and your approach to caring for kids?

    I am a pediatrician more than anything. In my opinion, there is no comparable patient population. Children are our gifts and represent the heritage of who we are. I will not be perfect, but I will look to treat your child with that focus in mind and will challenge our system to do the same.

    What are some of your favorite things (food, color, book, movie, etc.)? What makes you happy?

    • Favorite food – oxtail with rice and peas
    • Favorite movie – That’s really hard. I really like movies. I’d need to break that into categories but the cartoon version of Beauty and the Beast, The Last Samurai, Creed and Tombstone are high up there.
    • Favorite color – Penn State Blue
    • What makes me happy? – Helping people with their needs, hanging out with my bride of 20+ years, making Saturday morning breakfast for my family and Penn State Football.

    What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not at work?

    Cooking, laundry, reading “Goodnight, Construction Site,” losing to my kids in Nintendo Smash, reading scripture.

    Meet the rest of the unstoppable team caring for critically ill and injured kids in the CHoR PICU.

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