I am writing today to raise your attention to the current wave of COVID-19. We put together some concrete information to help navigate this surge in cases, found in Cecelia Theobald’s email of 11.17. I urge you to re-read that email and pay special attention to the contents of any emails that come from her office. This is not a drill.
With surges in hospital census and increasing challenges caused by our hospital personnel being quarantined either with COVID or because of an exposure, we are needing to adjust expectations. This is not life as normal, so I ask that we all be prepared.
We will expect that providers out on quarantine will continue to see their non-procedure patients via telehealth—this can be conversions to home telehealth or to communicate with the patient who is in the clinic via video or phone with the provider at home. As our patients are increasingly needing to limit their travels, we need to ensure that telehealth options are readily available in general and continue to create new innovative ways to keep everyone healthy.
We need you to be prepared to be called to duty and to be prepared that duty may be in the form of a care partner supporting a nurse or a team of nurses, as a partnering hospitalist, or as an intensivist. Thank you to our cardiology colleagues who have already begun answering this call, particularly Cherie Dahm and the cardiology fellow volunteers. Thank you also to our Department of Pediatrics colleagues who have agreed to take care of some of our younger patients in order to increase capacity. We as consultants will need to be accessible, prompt, and helpful when called to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for consultation.
In addition to any coverage or backup plan for your activities that your division provides if you do get quarantined or pulled to duty, it is very helpful if you can identify a buddy who is prepared to stand in for you as needed as an additional mechanism of backup. This may include covering clinical activities or coverage for non-clinical duties depending on your role—managing mouse colonies, teaching a class, etc. We did this exercise in the spring, so you probably already have a buddy. Please reach out to your buddy, and be sure that it still makes sense that they could cover in your absence. Remember, if you live with your buddy, that doesn’t work, as they’d likely be quarantined with you. And if you and your buddy are good regarding coverage plans, check in just to make sure they are ok. With the holidays coming and so many not seeing family, this time is especially difficult. We all need our buddies in lots of ways.
Speaking of holidays and speaking of being thankful. With next week being Thanksgiving, we would like to hear from you. Later today all newsletter subscribers will receive a survey. This one is purely optional! We want to hear from you; in this time of great adversity, what are you thankful for? We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your thoughts next week.
My final thoughts for this morning. I am on service this week (Onc B), having the opportunity to see the wheels in motion. We have an outstanding staff throughout the hospital system, and the level to which they have risen to the occasion is tremendous. We are very lucky to have such genuinely committed individuals to work with, and we should be proud to serve with them. The sacrifices we have seen and the selflessness that is demonstrated over and over in this pandemic are too many to count, but they are each worth recording and I am enduringly thankful.
Stay well, everyone.