As of this morning, March 19, 2020, I’m still working.
Granted, there aren’t a lot of people who want to come in. My schedule has dropped to 3-5 follow-ups per day and no new patients.
I can understand people not wanting to expose themselves unnecessarily right now.
But, I’m still a doctor. What drove me to study for the MCAT, apply to med school 2 years in a row, and then survive medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship … is still there.
Like I said in my 1987 personal statement, I still want to help people. I’d feel remiss if (provided I don’t have COVID-19) I didn’t show up for work each day, ready to care for any who need me. It’s part of who I am, what I do, and what I believe in.
I’m sure my colleagues in family practice, internal medicine, and pulmonology are swamped right now, but neurologists with primarily outpatient practices are taking a back seat except for a handful of patients.
My small office has been set up for my staff to work remotely in a pinch since 2016, so that was easy to enact. The three of us cover the phones the way we always have, and I see patients here.
With the relaxing of telehealth requirements for Medicare that were announced on March 17, I’m setting up to “see” patients remotely.
The whole situation seems bizarre and surreal.
It’s easy for anyone to read too much into anything. A brief tickle in my throat when I wake up, or a sneeze, or a few coughs, suddenly trigger a flurry of “could I have it?” thoughts. Fortunately, they fade when things quickly return to normal, but a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have thought anything of them at all.
Inevitably, I and pretty much everyone else will be exposed to or catch the virus. It’s what virions do. Unless you absolutely isolate yourself on a desert island, it will happen. When it does, you can only hope for the best.
I’m here for my patients today and will be as long as they need me. Unless I have to go into quarantine, of course. And even then, if able, I’ll do the best I can to treat them remotely.
That’s all I could ever want.
Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.