Charles Chase, DO

Charles Chase, DO

FMA Member Physician highlight

Moving the Needle
By Rosanne Dunkelberger, Contributing Writer

Like most other physicians in Florida, Winter Park anesthesiologist and FMA Treasurer Charles Chase, DO, has a story to tell about how he was affected by COVID.

Just before the pandemic began, the Dr. Chase had decided to step back from his regional managerial position at Envision Healthcare and work part-time, filling in for vacationing colleagues.

“I kind of semi-retired about a year-and-half ago … and then quickly got a three-month vacation” because elective surgeries were shut down and physicians weren’t taking vacations, he said. “I got a lot of yard work done during that time. I worked on my tan, lost a little weight.”

When Dr. Chase’s work picked up again, many of his patients were COVID sufferers. “As patients are going into respiratory failure in the ICU, they’ll call us to come and intubate patients,” he explained. “Typically, they’ll say, ‘While you’re up here we have another one that’s crashing in this room and another one over there.’ You end up doing three or four in a row. It’s really depressing because you see all these young people that are just hanging on.”Currently, Dr. Chase is President of the Physicians Society of Central Florida. The group was created three years ago when the existing medical societies in Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties joined forces to establish a more robust organization, which now has 350 members.

In addition to activities traditionally associated with physician organizations — business meetings, networking events, and fundraisers — about 18 months ago, the regional society created a free, private counseling service for physician members in response to rampant burnout. “It’s just docs talking to other docs to help them get through difficult times,” Dr. Chase said.

“I initially got involved in the medical association because I was trying to do something for my anesthesia group that would add value … to help our group,” he added. “What I found was that by becoming a part of these organized medical societies, I was able to discover what was coming down the road — what’s going to hit us ahead of time — because they’re talking with the legislators, talking with people that are making the rules.”

Dr. Chase is also a Past President of the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists and represents the specialty’s interests as a delegate to the FMA. Those roles, he said, have broadened his interests over the years. In representing his area of practice, “We learned that if we wanted to discuss an issue related to healthcare with a legislator, they wanted to know where the FMA was on that issue,” he said. “Instead of being more of an insular society … we’ve got to get more involved (in the FMA) because they can actually move the needle on legislative issues.”

Dr. Chase earned his medical degree from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. Five years ago, he started the Chase Honorary Anesthesiology Scholarship, which is awarded to NSU medical students who are interested in anesthesiology. The scholarship pays for students to attend the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting. “They … get a chance to go to all the lectures the anesthesiologists go to,” he said. “We introduce them to the directors of the residency training programs where they’re applying, and it gives them a chance to talk to people on an informal basis.”

Dr. Chase and his wife, Elena Holak, MD, met during their anesthesiology residency at the University of South Florida, reconnected in 2011 and married in 2013. In addition to her medical degree, she earned a master’s degree in public health and a PharmD, and she worked as a pharmacist before going to medical school. She spent most of her career in academic medicine. “My wife is the smart one in the family,” he said.