March 19, 2020

Hello Everyone,

I am sure that you have seen the AAO recommendation to "... cease providing any treatment other than urgent or emergent care immediately." This decision was made to preserve the well-being of patients and physicians. MSEPS will continue to provide updates and resources as we navigate these turbulent circumstances. Please see the original message from the AAO followed by the latest update from MedChi.

Renee Bovelle, MD
MSEPS President
New Recommendations Regarding Urgent and Nonurgent Patient Care

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Academy of Ophthalmology now finds it essential that all ophthalmologists cease providing any treatment other than urgent or emergent care immediately.

We now live and practice in a critically different medical reality—a rapidly evolving viral pandemic that is projected to, if unchecked, kill millions of Americans and tens of millions around the world. Public health experts agree that we must do two things on an urgent basis: 

First, we must reduce the risk of the SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission from human to human and the rate of new case development. Only in that way can we flatten the curve and not overwhelm our very limited supply of hospital beds, ICU beds, ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines. We have already hit that stage in a few hard-hit metropolitan areas. 

Second, we must as a nation conserve needed disposable medical supplies and focus them to the hospitals where they are most needed.

This disease is now in every state and the number of new cases is currently doubling every one to two days. Already, a handful of our ophthalmologist colleagues have died from COVID-19. It is essential that we as physicians and as responsible human beings do what we can and must to reduce virus transmission and enhance our nation's ability to care for those desperately ill from the disease. Public health experts unanimously agree that our window to modify the spread of disease is a narrow and closing one.
Accordingly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology strongly recommends that all ophthalmologists provide only urgent or emergent care. This includes both office-based care and surgical care. The Academy recognizes that "urgency" is determined by physician judgment and must always take into account individual patient medical and social circumstances. Each of us has a societal responsibility to not function as a vector of a potentially fatal disease—and one for which a widely available treatment or vaccine does not currently exist.

All other factors—business, finance, inconvenience, etc.—are remotely secondary. This is an existential crisis. We as physicians must respond to it and support our colleagues and our communities. Be safe.

For additional information go to .

Dear MedChi Members and Maryland Physicians:

  • We have heard from numerous practices in all settings expressing concern about the lack of personal protection devises (PPD). We have communicated that concern to the Maryland Health Department. The Hogan Administration is aware of the issue and is working on a plan to get supplies. More information will be forthcoming in the next 4-7 days; in the mean time we ask that you use your PPDs in a judicial manner. 

  • Yesterday, more than 500 physicians participated in the Maryland Department of Health's update call. The slides can be viewed here. Join in again tomorrow, March 20, at noon, for the next MDH Update Call. Register here.

  • Updated for March 19: A confidential, PHYSICIANS-ONLY list of testing sites has been shared by the Maryland Primary Care Program. Please do not share this publicly or with patients at this time.

  • MedChi is hosting a live CME webinar for clinicians in outpatient offices on Friday, March 20 at 1:00pm. The focus will be on handling symptomatic patients in ambulatory care settings. This content will also be available online after the event.

  • For questions regarding implementation of telemedicine, please contact Colleen George at

Please reach out to us if you have questions or if there are specific resources you are looking for. Thank you for all that you do as physicians and healers.

Gene Ransom
MedChi CEO

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