April 8, 2020 – Spring began a few weeks ago and – particularly after this past weekend – it became clear it was time to say Goodbye to Three Girls on a Sled whose carefree ride in the snow takes us back to a time before we had ever thought much about coronavirus and COVID was NO-VID.
Typically, our spring banner includes outdoor, spring activities (duh), but Young Girl and Online School seemed – given our present circumstances – to be a better fit.
[Aside: Of course, if your home is more like mine, this picture would need to include another, younger sister and some dispute about one of them “breathing too loud” and a father – numb to the sibling conflict – working feverishly to be sure the WiFi will produce enough bandwith for school and his office’s Zoom meeting that is scheduled to begin now.]
What Can You Say About This Past Month?
On March 5th we put up our first post about coronavirus disease / COVID-19 when Wake County announced its first case.
Over the last month, we have been gathering as much information as possible and processing it as a group. We have made plans and then remade plans as new information came available..
Medicine is always changing – changing plans is not necessarily a new thing. We always try to do things based on the best and most current information available.
The new thing was the speed of the changes – typically happening over years – these changes were happening over days and in some cases hours.
Let’s review all the changes at RCAM that are still current:
- All well care is moved to the Duraleigh office – only well children accompanied by a well adult are seen for well visits at Duraleigh
- We are scheduling only “essential well visits” at this time – those are well visits that have a vaccine associated with them
- If you had some pressing things you wanted to discuss at a well visit that is on the delayed list, consider scheduling a TeleHealth visit (see below)
- All sick child care was moved to the Brier Creek office – with a few twists:
- Twist #1 – Curbside clinic was initiated for children with symptoms suspicious of possible coronavirus
- Twist #2 – TeleHealth visits are becoming our new normal as a way to safely evaluate patients without the fear of increasing potential exposures
- All RCAM staff are now wearing masks and gloves – at both offices – add to that lots of hand washing and not touching your face and cleaning rooms after every patient
All of these changes were made to be as safe as possible yet still available to our patient families, to reduce exposures, and to slow the spread of coronavirus / COVID-19.
TeleHealth Visits have some limits though I am surprised at how typically they can identify something treatable or rule out the need to come to our office or the Urgent Care or the Emergency Department.
We have spots available. Call and schedule a visit. The steps are laid out here.
Easter Holiday is Coming Up This Weekend
Good Friday is an official RCAM office holiday, so this Friday the 10th we will operate like we have on recent weekends:
- We will have an early clinic for newborns who need to be followed up from the past week
- All sick patients will be evaluated through TeleHealth visits
Meanwhile, The Brian Carter Era Began at RCAM
He began to learn the RCAM secrets when he started in December but he didn’t take the reins completely until after February 28th when Debbie Maness retired as our office manager after 42 years (!).
He hit the ground running. Brian would probably describe it more like a chase – as in it felt like he was being chased by a lion – as his first week on the job was highlighted by a pandemic.
Brian has been great. More about him later, but it is about time we introduced him to our extended RCAM-ily.
If you see someone in our office wearing a tie that doesn’t feature Sponge Bob (Dr. Sena) – that is more than likely Brian – give him a big Hello and Welcome.
Given the circumstances of his first month, he could probably use the encouragement.
I am sure that everyone could use some encouragement.
The response of our administrative staff and nurses has been spectacular. The general day-to-day pressure on a pediatric staff is underrated, and now they quite suddenly have found themselves on one of the front lines of a pandemic.
They have handled some tough circumstances with a lot of grace and professionalism.
As pediatricians, we’ve had to work together even more than we usually do – Zoom meeting almost daily – making new plans and changing protocols that we just wrote. We have found another gear with how we work with and relate to one another and personally that has been great.
Patients and their families have even asked if they can help.
We have been gifted at least one box of N95 masks and numerous homemade masks.
Finally, the Raleigh pediatric medical community really stepped up. Specifically, Oberlin Road Pediatrics and Carolina Kids Pediatrics both sought us out directly. As it turns out, we didn’t need the help, but it meant a lot to hear from them, and we hope to return the favor sometime.
That’s how we’re all going to get through this – finding ways to help each other out.
Epilogue: Somewhat Related
For anyone still reading this, I had this post all ready to go late Sunday night.
I saved it to my computer and walked upstairs to say good night to my daughters.
When I returned, my screen looked entirely different.There were characters I had never seen before – and about 80% of my original post was completely gone. I tried to pull up the post I had saved, yet somehow that had been updated to the now-80%-gone post.
He has a penchant for getting comfortable in odd places – for example, he loves climbing and lying on top of backpacks.
He is also well known in our house – as pictured here in what I call “Exhibit A” – for getting comfortable on my computer keyboard.
The post finally got done and I believe I have been forgiven for the words that came out of my mouth that night.
Happy Easter to everyone!
Try to enjoy what you can about being locked down with people who are likely pretty important to you – and try to ignore all of their loud breathing.