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UCAN Inspire: Dr. Jeff Krebs

UCAN Inspire: Dr. Jeff Krebs
After a fantastic 30-year career in medicine, Dr. Jeff Krebs retired in 2019 and turned his focus towards another passion: triathlon. Then COVID-19 hit the United States and Dr. Krebs's medical group asked him to reprise his role at the hospital. "I didn't hesitate to say yes," Dr. Krebs recalls. "Medicine for me was never just a job. It was, and still is, a calling." Learn more about Dr. Krebs in the first of our series UCAN INSPIRE: Uplifting Stories from the UCAN Community.

Who is Dr. Jeff Krebs?

  • Graduated UC San Diego School of Medicine in 1986.
  • Internal Medicine Residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.
  • Full-time Partner in the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (1989-2019)
  • Practiced Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Hospital Medicine.

Jeff Krebs the Athlete

I was a competitive figure skater through college, medical school and during my residency. An accident on the ice left me with a dislocated and fractured shoulder which basically ended my skating career. I picked up cycling as my major endurance activity. While doing a Vo2Max test it was discovered I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis: I needed to do more than cycle. My cycling coach connected me up with a group of triathletes so that I could run with them one day a week. Even though I had never run before, I took to it very quickly and was one of the fastest in the group.\ At the age of 52, I joined the local YMCA and started private swimming lessons. I had never learned to swim properly as a child and had not even been near a pool for over 30 years at that time. Two months later I raced my first triathlon, the olympic distance 2013 ITU World Triathlon in San Diego. I was hooked!


Joining the Fight Against COVID-19


I retired in January 2019 after a fantastic 30 year career in medicine. I was really enjoying retirement as a full-time endurance sports athlete when the coronavirus pandemic began. My medical group immediately realized the need to increase medical personnel and called me to ask if I was interested in coming back to work in the hospital. I didn’t hesitate to say yes: medicine for me was never just a job. It was, and still is, a "calling."


Many Unknowns

 It’s been a sense of deja-vu: I started my medical career just as the AIDS epidemic was rising. I remember dressing up in hazmat-like suits to care for the really sick AIDS patients, not fully understanding how to treat them or what was even happening to them medically. Every day was a learning experience and there was so much that was unknown. COVID-19 is just like that, although in some respects even scarier. It is definitely easier to contract COVID-19 than it is to contract AIDS from an ill patient, and there are still many unknowns about the virus. Every day there is something new to learn, and I can tell you that some of the patients are the sickest I have ever seen during my career. As a physician treating COVID-19 patients, every step I take has to be very deliberate in order to protect myself, my colleagues and my family. Putting on and then removing my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has to be done in a specific order and with specific technique so as not to contaminate myself or anyone else. Examining patients while wearing a very tight fitting N95 mask, face shield, hair cover, plastic cover gown and several pairs of gloves is uncomfortable, and forms a barrier between me and my patient. The more I work the more routine, the more procedure it becomes but I need to always remain diligent in order to protect myself.


Fueling His Pursuits


UCAN has been a true game-changer for me. I started using UCAN last year after being introduced to it at a Tri Club San Diego meeting. Prior to that I used nutritional products that are found on pretty much every race course. Not a day went by for the previous few years that I didn’t have GI issues but I resigned myself to the fact that it was a necessary part of being an endurance athlete. I took the UCAN Challenge for 1 week. I stopped ALL other products and only used UCAN. For the first time in a long time I felt terrific with plenty of energy and no GI issues. I went back the next week to my previous nutrition and did not use UCAN products at all:the familiar abdominal bloating and discomfort returned and I knew that UCAN was right for me. I switched to UCAN completely and have had some of my best races and training with it. I attribute my terrific race in Napa to UCAN, and I have realized that I don’t have to think much about my nutrition anymore
I use UCAN in other ways too. I always have plenty of UCAN bars with me at the hospital. I never know when my next meal will be, and a UCAN bar can give me energy for hours without getting a sugar crash. I keep them in my white coat so that I am never far from a bar when I need one! I also have a bottle of UCAN Hydrate on my desk at work. Wearing all of the PPE at hospital causes me to get dehydrated easily (try wearing a non-breathable plastic full body gown for a few hours and you will know what I mean). Whenever I return to my desk, I drink my Hydrate to replenish the electrolytes and fluids that I have lost.
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