Never before since 9-11 has the current generations experienced an event that will forever change our future. Specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is persistently changing the landscape of healthcare. Which, in my expert opinion, is not necessarily a bad thing. In my 30 years as a Registered Nurse, I have witnessed the evolution of “standard precautions” for protecting healthcare workers (HCW) as we fought through the fear of AIDS. I had a front-row-hands-on seat as we diminished delirium and patient PTSD by decreasing sedatives and got patients up and walking while they were still on a breathing machine. Now, as we transition from pandemic to epidemic to community-spread mystery infection, I’m bearing witness to a new dawn of infection control and personal practices.
It’s about time.
I’m certainly not pleased with the over 500,000 deaths worldwide and devastation to people’s lives as it relates to this new virus. And while I truly believe we have yet to hit the peak on the turmoil that HCW’s will need to seek treatment for in order to heal, the world of medicine and how the public views “essential workers” will never be the same.
More than just a heightened awareness of washing your hands and covering your cough, how we deliver care to patients and our communities is evolving. Clinicians who were accustomed to performing their assessments and care with the patient in front of them are now having to rely on video visits, or even phone calls. As the world came to a grinding halt a few months ago, we in medicine knew that sick patients still needed care. Diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease didn’t take a hiatus because clinics were closed. We pivoted and turned to innovation in order to “see” our patients and meet their needs where they were at – which was usually at home. Then we demanded that the health insurance companies and regulatory agencies move with us so we could receive payment to keep our doors open because healthcare is also a business.
I can’t say for certain that we have arrived at the “new norms” people mention. I believe it’s still a way out. In the meantime, here are some questions you can ask your clinician to optimize innovative practices, keep yourself safe, and get the care you need, right where you are:
- Do you require masks on patients when I come for an appointment?
- What if I can’t wear a mask – what are my options?
- Do you offer video or phone visits?
- If I don’t have a smartphone or computer for a video visit, what other options do you have?
- Are any of the clinicians in the practice making home visits?
- Are there any medical devices (like a glucometer or blood pressure machine) that I can setup at home in order for you to see my information without a visit?
- Do you and your staff wear masks inside the office? Have any of your staff tested positive for COVID-19?
If COVID-19 and the pandemic are the drivers for this long road trip, healthcare is the toddler in the backseat asking, “Are we there yet?” for the 500th time.
Catherine Burger, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC
Chief Nurse & Marketing Officer
Moxie Apparel, Inc.