My first response to the Scope topic of COVID-19 is to disclose what I have experienced after nearly 2 months of unemployment. What effects has the COVID-19 had on your practice?
Multi-specialty offices have several physicians with multiple staff. Did you keep all your staff or furlough some employee’s?
As a solo practitioner, my staff were cancelling 30- to 40 patients a day and seeing only zero to two emergency patients daily. I had to furlough all my staff. I was not interested in a loan from the government, not knowing when I would receive the money and would have had to pay salaries out of my personal retirement funds. There was no relieve from malpractice, Practice management or EMR monthly dues, and of course, all the taxes, utilities and office building expenses still existed. OMIC states that a reduction will be seen in next year’s malpractice fees. This is all great— if we will still be practicing next year.
Personal protection equipment was impossible to obtain. I ordered masks in February and have yet to have them delivered. I inquired at my hospital of supplying my office a few N95 masks to wear while seeing the emergency patients. None were given. Thankfully, my son had 2 masks to spare me.
After two months of near unemployment, the state of Indiana allowed patient visits at limited capacity and with multiple new policies to be written and followed. We are now slowly recalling patients to be seen 20 minutes apart to conform to the new normal. Patients are to be taken directly to an exam to avoid any patients in the waiting room. Plexiglass are now hanging in multiple areas to provide protection barriers for staff and patients.
Surgeries are restarting after 2 months of cancelling. My hospital decided to only open one of the several hospitals we have. I was assured that the microscopes would be transferred to the new site. Of course, this did not occur. I find myself looking through an antique scope that was cumbersome to focus with the slightest movement of the patient. So, I refuse to perform any more surgeries with the less than adequate scopes provided. Inquiring why this was allowed to happen, the response relayed is that they are considering opening up my surgicenter. This decision will be considered next week possibly.
Physicians are a necessary part of the medical system. We have 13 to 18 years of college or more. It is unfortunate to have persons with much less education having us practice without improper personal protection equipment or adequate equipment to perform surgeries.
Many times, I have had to sit back and take a cleansing breath and repeat. DO NO HARM. I will do nothing that can cause harm even if I cannot perform surgeries for a few more months. Thankfully, when I explain the reason for delaying surgeries, my patients are understanding and grateful for my decision.
Article by: Judy L. Davis, DO AOCOO-HNS Immediate Past President