This Thursday CVVIM Went Virtual
As last Thursday was a departure from the usual, this Thursday veered even further off-course. Shelly, the usual barista at Starbucks was nowhere to be found. In fact, the door to Starbucks was locked, and a new system had been instituted. Only mobile orders from account holders with Starbucks cards on their phone app would be accepted, and someone would deliver orders to the door. It worked fine, though lacked the camaraderie of the usual Starbucks experience. A sign of things to come on Avenue 48 later in the day.
At CVVIM, the door was open, but a well-worded sign explained that we would be cancelling all in-person appointments for the time being. We saw our last patient in the office on Wednesday, March 18th. But a viable “Plan B” was discussed and put into action. Our staff would start with current patients and call each one, asking them how they were doing, and to ascertain if any prescriptions would need to be renewed. Additionally, we enlisted our volunteer providers to be available to the staff for questions over the telephone, as well as to call pharmacies and call patients back to explain lab and imaging results that were received by the clinic but not yet reviewed with patients. It is our hope that we will work through the list of cancelled appointments and then work backwards through at least a year’s time to contact our patients.
Our VIM colleagues around the country are grappling with the same issues, and they held a conference call and sent out a survey to see what each facility has done thus far. They tell us that this week they will roll out a platform for virtual visits for use by VIM clinics. We will circulate information to our providers once it is distributed.
Just yesterday, I called a patient to make sure she knew that she had a urinary tract infection that needed treatment, find out which pharmacy she uses, instructed her how to take the antibiotics and answered her questions. She was taken aback that we would make the special effort to call her and take care of her during the current crisis. Although I could not see her expression, the expression of gratitude in her voice was clear.
Although a lot has changed in a week, our goals and mission are the same, though our procedures are very different than they have ever been. The dedication of our staff and volunteers is unwavering. Our patients appreciate what we are doing.
Thank you to our staff, our volunteers and supporters. Without each of you, we could not continue to care for the medically underserved in the Coachella Valley. No matter what happens next Thursday, we strive to do our best.
Stewart B. Fleishman, MD
Volunteer & Board Chair