March 16, 2020
President's Message:

Hello Everyone,
I hope you are well. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our Annual Combined Ophthalmic Convention. The decision was made out of our responsibility to protect physicians and staff during this health crisis. It is important that our physicians remain healthy to care for patients. We hope to reschedule the meeting for later in the year.

In the meantime, we are considering webinars and other online content. Stay tuned for updates. Please email Sophie Pumphrey with any suggestions. ( SPumphrey@medchi.org )

Treating our patients during this global pandemic, and the National State of Emergency puts us in uncharted territory. We are concerned for our patients, our families, ourselves, our practices and perhaps our livelihood. Guidance from Anthony Fauci, the AAO, WHO, and CDC seems to change daily or sometimes even more frequently.

Our medical training reminds us not to panic, but instead to act prudently and responsibly. Please try to minimize community spread. Please try to maintain social distancing when able. It may be inconvenient, but we should remember that we come into contact with vulnerable patients and family members. Here is a graphic that many of you have seen. It compares the death rate during the 1918 Flu Epidemic in Philadelphia (later social distancing) and St. Louis (earlier social distancing).

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

I found this quote from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb helpful.

"The best case scenario is we look back a month from now and we say to ourselves, well, we overreacted. You want to be in a position and Dr. Fauci made this point as well. You want to be in a position to say we- well, we overreacted. It wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be."


On Saturday, March 14th I participated on an all physician conference call addressing the COVID-19 crisis with Howard Haft, MD, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Service at the Maryland Department of Health, and Richard Bruno, MD, Chair of MedChi’s Public Health Committee. This call covered essential information for physicians. To listen to a recording of the call go here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yK7Uv6jeluUnuW--YAv-MHHGwDE-92jM/view

The Maryland Health Department provided a letter to clinicians.This letter provides additional interim guidance on testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in outpatient settings. It supplements information in the March 6, 2020 clinician letter with more specific guidance and information regarding testing in an outpatient setting for primary care and urgent care providers. 

The AMA, AHA and ANA sent a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi regarding the supplemental funding package for COVID-19.

In this newsletter, we include information that we have culled from various sources. As we find our "new normal," please remember to treat each other with respect and if possible, kindness. People on edge may not react in a manner that you deem appropriate. Keep calm and wash your hands. It is the right thing to do. We will continue to communicate and provide updates during this crisis.

Yours in health,
Renee Bovelle, MD
MSEPS President
What does the Maryland State of Emergency mean?
The Governor has announced several major steps our state government has taken in effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maryland: 

Practice Information & Medico-legal Concerns
As always, maintain standard of care. Please see the resources above for examples. For now that means:

·        Establish protocols for patient screening on telephone and at the office.
·         Consider door signage and phone calls asking sick patients to call the Maryland Department of Health / PCP for COVID-19 testing
·         Frequent disinfecting
·         Masks and personal protective equipment when treating patients with known or suspected COVID-19
Surgery
As many of you may be finding, elective surgeries are being canceled at hospitals and affiliated ASC. Some private ASCs are canceling surgeries as well. The Surgeon General has advocated canceling surgeries. Please see information from the American College of Surgeons. 

Telehealth
We are encouraged to use telemedicine and telephonic health when possible. MedChi has worked to expand telehealth and telemedicine implementation. Be sure to verify the telehealth and telemedicine coverage from your insurance carrier.

Backline from Dr. First is a Telehealth platform used by MedChi's CTO and can be used by any physician.


Business
Patient volume may decrease. Please verify your business coverage for emergencies. Consider a line of credit if needed. MedChi has offered to be an information resource. Please call MedChi with questions.

Consider contacting bank and equipment lease lenders to see if they are receptive to lowering/deferring payments.
Here is a sample email:

"Given the very real possibility that we may need to ( if any staff are exposed ) or be forced to (should the government mandate) close the office for X weeks or for an indefinite period of time with no patient visits and therefore no income creating a significant cash flow problem what are the options regarding lease/loan repayment and possible deferment? "
Outside Events
Online telehealth Course: Learn how to implement telemedicine into your practice now. For the next 24 hours only: Receive a group rate of $599 each (regularly $899) which will include a live Q/A on how to implement as well as a 2 month free trial for ConnectOnCall’s telemedicine platform (a $200 value). Contact Dr Saya Nagori to get this set up at Saya.nagori@gmail.com . Also, today until March 31, 2020, MSEPS members will receive and $150 discount. Use the promo code MARYLAND to receive the discount.

Montgomery County Medical Society Webinar: Rapid Implementation of Telehealth Wednesday March, 18, 2020 12-1PM or 6-7PM
This event is offered to exclusively to MCMS physician members and their practice staff, and to PEAKE Technology invitees. MCMS is proud to partner with SimpleVisit, a division of PEAKE Technology, to offer a how-to webinar on telemedicine. The current COVID-19 pandemic calls for new ways to care for the medical needs of your patients - even if it’s from a distance.


Women in Ophthalmology Webinar “Beauty and the Ocular Surface Beast” Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 8pm.
This complimentary webinar will address what’s new and hot in ocular surface surgery, patient beauty mistakes, peri-ocular lasers, and skincare. You may even gain a few skincare, dry eye, and beauty tips for yourself! 
Disclaimer: MSEPS does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites or events, and we do not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer.  
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Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone 410-244-7320
Fax 410-727-5967