Remember to Give Hope!
It is not uncommon for primary care physicians to hear the “oh by the way” complaint during a patient encounter, which has often led to a more extensive visit than planned. The current pandemic has caused a shift in patients’ questioning toward their doctor’s opinion on COVID.
The most recent data predicts a surge of cases due to many factors surrounding seasonal change and other risk factors associated with increased transmission. We remain aware of the need to continue masking and social distancing, especially during this time of year that typically brings many people together. Even though the increase in new cases was predicted, this does not help to lessen the impact on our friends, families, and communities.
In the news, we see the newest daily peak in cases above 280,000, and a new record number of deaths in one day of 3,600 patients from COVID-19. The numbers are surprising for patients, who are asked to stay in their homes, often alone, with nothing to do but listen to the descriptors, like “staggering loss of life,” a “new grim milestone today…,” often repeated on media outlets everywhere. Even the great news of COVID vaccines is followed with “but there is a long road ahead of us” despite the long road we have travelled. In the end, the news and media coverage rarely provides useful information, which contributes to our struggle with COVID-19.
During this time, make it a point to engage in the casual conversation with patients about COVID-19. The fear and uncertainty many are experiencing is profound, and patients of all ages are affected. The disruption of daily routines, and now a drastic change to holiday planning due to the pandemic, has led to a significant increase in anxiety and depression symptoms in both those with a history of mental illness, and in those who previously had great mindfulness skills that are now disrupted by the pandemic.
Through opening the dialogue with our patients, we provide them with a medical perspective they do not receive through news and media. We can change the dialogue from one that describes an uncontrolled illness to a dialogue about how collaborative efforts have helped to alter the state of the curve, and highlight the need for better hospital and resource readiness. Through public health measures, we have expedited the time for vaccine development, which is now being delivered to the first wave of recipients. Continued vaccinations are expected over the next few months.
MarkAlain Dery, DO, MPH, FACOI is providing ACOI followers with weekly updates on the general state of the COVID-19 Pandemic, viewable on our YouTube channel. Being at the front lines of the pandemic and with twenty years of experience in medicine and infectious disease, he provides updates on our current state and preparedness, helps all of us understand the basics of COVID-19, and discusses emerging developments without the fluff and dramatization the media provides. I encourage you to check out his resources on our website.
In the end, we have these conversations to provide hope and reassurance, even though we know this Season of Hope will be unlike any other.
Michael A. Adornetto, DO, MBA, FACOI