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This local doctor earned a statewide award for his work improving emergency care
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Dr. Mohak Davé, chief of Emergency Medicine for Northeast Georgia Medical Center, has been awarded the Emergency Department Director of the Year Award from the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians. - photo by Scott Rogers

Dr. Mohak Davé can’t walk the halls of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center or even sit in the hospital’s cafe without someone shaking his hand, giving him a high five or waving from across the way.

“That’s Nancy, who just walked by,” said Davé, medical director of emergency services at the hospital, after greeting her for a moment while sitting at one of the cafe’s tables. “She’s a triage nurse, so she’s the very first person that you’ll see if you come into an (emergency room) and tell them what your complaint is. Without her doing her job and doing it well, that patient is going to have a bad experience.”

Without her, and a lot of other people working in the emergency department at the hospital, Davé said the award he was given on Nov. 29, naming him emergency department director of the year, never would have made its way to him.

“I think it’s unfortunate that I’m the one who gets acknowledged for the work that hundreds of people in all three of our ERs are doing on a daily basis,” Davé said.

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Hospital personnel work Christmas Day in the emergency department at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. From left, nursing supervisor Mary Nimtz, ER charge nurse Barry Cape and emergency physician Mohak Dave. - photo by NAT GURLEY

The statewide award is given to a medical director who’s part of the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians and “has demonstrated outstanding improvement in operational and clinical standards in the following areas: quality patient care, operational effectiveness, education, patient satisfaction and throughput,” according to the association’s website.

Davé has been at Northeast Georgia Medical Center since 2005 and over that time, he said the hospital has “seen tremendous growth in what we deliver in terms of services to patients.” He said everything from cardiac care to trauma care, stroke protocols to sepsis pathways, has improved.

“We look at our processes and see how to refine them so that we cannot just rest on our accolades, but always continually improve our community,” Davé said.

He didn’t decide to go into emergency medicine until his fourth year at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, but he’s always had an interest in medicine.

“I was always interested in ambulances and fire trucks as a young kid growing up,” Davé said. “I realized I wanted to work with people. I really enjoyed that.”

As he went through college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he worked as a volunteer emergency medical technician. He was on the rescue squad, helping out with 911 calls and emergencies, so his interest in emergency medicine, specifically, continued to grow.

The rush of emergency medicine is what sold Davé on the profession. He said he, along with most of his coworkers, have personalities where they want quick results.

“Patience is not always a virtue in emergency medicine,” Davé said, laughing.

As the medical director of all three Northeast Georgia Medical locations in Gainesville, Braselton and Barrow, Davé said he is charged with ensuring the emergency departments perform at a high level and offer the best, most efficient care to its patients.

Even with an award like this, though, Davé said he still works shifts just like everyone else in the emergency department. His days, nights and weekends are full of taking care of patients and the ER as a whole.

That’s one of the toughest parts of the job. He said a lot of people get into emergency medicine because when they clock out for the day, they’re done. They can forget about work and enjoy their time off. But as medical director of emergency services, he has to be available at all times. Even if he’s not physically at one of the hospitals, he has to at least be able to answer a phone call.

“Oftentimes, if you don’t know when to stop or give yourself a break, it can actually impact patients,” Davé said.

He compared it to aviation, saying pilots have a certain amount of time they are required to rest between flights. The medical field “has been slow to move the needle in the right direction” when it comes to ensuring its people are taking enough time off, Davé said.

So, as often as he can, Davé shuts things off. He goes out on the lake with his family, exercises on his new Peloton machine or simply watches Netflix — never any medical shows, though.

During that time he gets with his children, Davé said he’s always trying to teach them things. Even though they haven’t shown any interest in the medical field, Davé said he uses his job to teach them life lessons, especially about facing challenges.

“It’s not easy sometimes, especially in emergency medicine,” Davé said. “You don’t know what's going to happen. You could have a seemingly normal day, and then you have the hardest airway to manage in an infant, and that can terrify you. You have to make sure you’re prepared to meet those challenges, and that's what I think I want my kids to know is don’t ever shy away from a challenge, face it and you can do it.”

Overcoming those challenges himself and winning emergency department director of the year, Davé said, wouldn't be possible without all the people around him. Many people, just like Nancy who passed by in the cafe, make the emergency department run day in and day out.

“That’s really what I love most about being a medical director,” Davé said. “When you sit back and you think about how many different pieces have to work together to provide the best care, it’s really amazing.”

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