If there has been one quality that has allowed both the patients and practice to maintain a good relationship, it’s patience. So far, our patients have been extremely willing and happy to work through any technical difficulties, and we are extremely grateful for their understanding.
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In terms of the concerns regarding COVID-19, patients have primarily cited concerns associated with the increased risk associated with using immunosuppressive medications. We often discuss the risks and benefits of continuing with biologic therapy and how to respond in the case of potential COVID-19 symptoms. More specific complaints revolve around potential interventions to help reduce the potential for transmission and intricacies behind different types of testing.
Generally, I feel like our patients are extremely educated on both their conditions and the current pandemic state. As demonstrated by our shift toward telemedicine, a majority of our patients understand the significance and necessity for the extended stay at home order in LA County. Our patients seem to appreciate this order [because] they understand they can definitely fall into the extremely high-risk category.
In terms of advice to our patients, we try to encourage them to really embrace the telemedicine aspect and not come in unless it is a true necessity. Additionally, we continue to emphasize the need to stay at home, avoid markets, practice social/physical distancing, wear face masks, ask family members or friends to help with shopping if needed, needed, practice proper hand washing techniques and, finally, to contact us if there are any grey areas that they are just not quite sure of.
Q: How is the pandemic affecting you and your staff personally?
The pandemic has placed a lot of strain on interpersonal relationships and constantly brings into question what can be done to help more. The staff has continued to respond well, but the very flow and efficiency of the clinic has definitely been disrupted. The day-to-day operations that were previously taken for granted are now more difficult to accomplish [because] we are not fully staffed. All of us understand the science and the need for social distancing, but to say the pandemic has not affected daily personal life as well would be a grave understatement.
Carina Stanton is a freelance science journalist based in Denver.