March 20, 2020

Feeling groovy

Over the past 7 1/2 years, I thought my best, most productive time was in the morning. I developed a routine that works for me. I get up early, exercise for 20 minutes, play my fiddle for 10 minutes, drink my coffee, contemplate the day, write in a journal, and then head off for the bus downtown. Once at work, I don’t really think about anything else, I see patients, answer phone calls, review results, explain them to the patients, through My Chart, a phone message, or occasionally a call, OK refills, answer My Chart messages, review chart notes from other doctors. Not to mention the responsibility of being lead physician of my group, making decisions, being a cheerleader, having hard conversations, solving problems, consulting with other providers. Oh, did I mention the meetings? So many meetings. But I have a groove I get in and mostly it works really well. Unexpected things do pop up, a sick patient that needs transferred to the hospital, bad lab or radiology results, an unexpected diagnosis, a patient with overwhelming emotional distress, but still I manage. And I am tired by the end of the day, with not much left to give.

But since the first of March, my groove has been interrupted. Information is changing at the speed of light. New adaptations for the impending surge, now estimated in about a week, have changed everyone’s workflow. I no longer take the bus, but decreased traffic has made the commute easy. Today was the last day we have scribes, the numbers of patients I see daily has plummeted like the stock market, but the number of messages and phone calls have tripled. And I have to respond to new requests for help, more training meetings, learning now about Telemedicine we start next week. New recommendations on testing come often too. And keeping up with news about COVID-19. We have video town halls daily to recap the day and new developments. I start early and end late. I am in awe and amazed at the work and planning my leaders and fellow physicians have done.

And now I find that, to my surprise, my most productive time is now, as the day is winding down, when I sit and recap my day, think about my feelings and the knowledge I learned or relearned today. I didn’t know I could do this, but I think it helps me as much as it seems to help you all.

And today my groove is full of love for my friends who are so anxious to help in any way they can. Yes, the surge is coming and you are working to slow it down. Thanks! You are making a difference. Keep spreading the word and keep finding ways to help others. Kindness, keeping in contact with loved ones and friends who are alone is the best thing we can do right now.

Unless you can sew, and then I might have project for you. Dear friends, looking to help, are going to sew reusable face masks for health care workers in the hardest hit places. Hospitals will need them, but so will smaller clinics, community health centers, rural areas, these can truly be life savers. And, frankly, as Jamie pointed out, I won’t have time to help find places that need the masks. But you can do it! All over the country and the world these are needed. There are instructions on line. Google them.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.