Urgent Care Physician, Atlanta, Georgia
“When the COVID-19 crisis first began, our volume was astronomically high. Normally in a shift I see about 20 to 30 patients; in one shift I had 60—I had to call in help. … We are still open during our normal hours—8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.—but one of our two facilities sees the morning crew, and the other facility sees the night crew. … If anyone’s having coronavirus symptoms, we politely ask them to go to their car and give us a call. They can do a telemedicine visit. It’s our way of protecting the patients as well as ourselves. … When I come into work, I have my temperature taken. I used to be able to walk into a patient’s room and shake their hand, introduce myself. Now I’m going in wearing a mask, greeting them only verbally, so I don’t feel like the patients know me. … We’re not doing COVID-19 testing until we get the proper PPE, the N95s and the shields so we can protect our staff—not just the physicians, but also front desk workers, medical assistants. … I’m incredibly lucky and blessed to work. I usually have a patient waiting. A lot these days are hand lacerations and such—people are at home, they want to learn how to cook. They’re afraid to go to the emergency room at night, so they’ll wait and then they come see me. … In between seeing physical patients, I see my telemedicine patients—and most of them are concerned about COVID-19. So I talk them through it, find out their symptoms, refer them to the appropriate facilities to get tested if needed. A few of them call back in a few weeks and let me know they’re feeling much better. So that’s the highlight of my day. … The biggest thing we see is chest pain. But after a thorough workup and deeper discussion, we find it’s usually anxiety. So I let them know, ‘Hey, everyone’s anxious. I hear you, I understand your concerns.’ Then I tell them what to look for. ‘Around days seven and eight, that’s when shortness of breath develops. But anxiety can also cause that issue. Can you walk to this door without feeling like you’re going to pass out?’ It’s explaining things on their terms. And now I give them my personal email, so they feel a little bit better knowing they can reach out to me with questions. It calms them down. People are really scared. … I have a small role—I think about my colleagues in the ICU. But I try to help as much as I can.”
As told to Janice Fisher
April 22, 2020
Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.