Work Life Challenges
This pandemic has been an intellectual challenge. Normally when a patient contacts my clinic with a concern, my threshold is low to have them come in for reassurance. Nowadays, every decision I make about whether an in-person visit is warranted must be weighed against the risk of exposing a patient to COVID-19. We all have to work smarter during these times to avoid missing critical diagnoses while limiting the spread of the virus.
I’ve been lucky that Kaiser Permanente already had the technological infrastructure in place to conduct a high volume of telephone and video visits to provide as much care as possible while keeping the risks of exposure low. Currently, some of our ophthalmology clinics in Northern California are conducting up to 54% of new patient visits on a telephone or video platform. Patients are getting the care that they need.
My non-ophtho duties have involved staffing a call center for patients with questions about access during COVID-19 to help offload the primary care physicians who are overwhelmed. I underwent training to perform COVID-19 testing to eventually be deployed to skilled nursing facilities and was surprised that patients were far more uncomfortable with this test than they are with intravitreal injections!
I was concerned about everyone’s physical and mental health once it became clear this quarantine was not going to be short-lived. I will say the one member of my family who has benefitted from this stay-at-home order is my dog who has loved having his parents home with him every day.
When my gym closed I assumed my life would become more sedentary, but my cousin convinced me to get a TikTok account so we could dance virtually together. Since opening my account, I’ve had a blast getting back into dance, which I haven’t done regularly for years. I think I’ve actually burned more calories on TikTok than I would have at the gym, and it’s way more fun!
About the author: Meron Haile, MD, is a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif. She is also a member of the Academy’s YO Committee.