With Covid-19, medical specialists’ practices changed
At the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, the hands-on experiences the therapists typically have with children, described as knee-to-knee because of how physically close the practitioners are to their patients, has gone remote.
The therapists, consisting of graduate students, are now coaching parents to provide services to their children they otherwise would be receiving at the center.
“It’s challenging, not because we mind or not because the work is so difficult,” said Dr. Anibal Gutierrez, the associate director at the center and research associate professor at the Department of Psychology. “It puts a lot of weight on the parents. I’ve never wanted to unload clinical responsibilities on the families.”
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors and nurses are now in the frontlines of a global threat. However, even those specialists outside the obvious orbit of the virus’s pull are feeling the effects. For some, they’ve seen a shift in their day-to-day work, while others have seen their practice come to a virtual stop.
Mr. Gutierrez said the center has been able to make a fairly smooth transition to online services. Support groups for parents are being held on Zoom and the therapists are communicating with the kids (virtually). However, he said, it’s hard to gauge what the current disruption spells for the kids and the families, as they grapple with the additional stress from the virus.
“We’re lucky we have the ability to keep working with them and keep supporting them, but it’s definitely affecting the quantity and quality of behavioral intervention that these kids rely on.”
Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute has found itself in the thick of things. The institute was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to perform Covid-19 tests on-site, with the capacity to perform up to 80 tests a day.
Dr. Leonard Kalman, the institute’s deputy medical director and chief officer, said Dr. Edwin Gould, the chief of pathology, knew the institute had the technology and expertise to develop the test.
Mr. Kalman said because cancer patients are more susceptible to the virus, doctors are taking extra measures to ensure their health. He said doctors are reaching out to their patients to determine whether they can provide services through the Baptist’s telehealth platform if possible, and if not, they continue to be treated on-site.
The institute works off a multidisciplinary approach, with oncologists, hematologists, radiologists and other specialists coming together to provide comprehensive treatment to patients. Mr. Kalman said the institute continues to simulate that approach, and doctors are making it work, whether virtually or in person.
Dr. Adam J. Rubinstein, a Miami-based plastic surgeon, launched the Take A Breather campaign to utilize ventilators that are currently going unused, such as his own. He reached out to colleagues from his medical societies who also had ventilators. His initiative picked up momentum, gaining national attention, and has since joined forces with others who are trying to get the ventilators to those who need them most amid the pandemic. Oracle is updating its website and database used to coordinate the ventilators, as well as personal protective equipment that could be made available to those who need it most.
But those efforts are a result, in part, of the standstill in cosmetic procedures. Mr. Rubenstein said many of his colleagues have had to lay off employees because of the virus. He, personally, has shut down his office since Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order a month ago halting elective medical procedures. He said his office was in good financial standing when the order was enacted so he’s been able to keep all his staff on payroll.
However, he’s struggling to continue paying his employees with no revenue coming in, estimating he can keep them on the payroll for another month or so. He’s hopeful he’ll get financial support from the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Program.
“For the time being, it is very difficult,” he said. “We’re not working, we have no revenue coming in, and we’re just trying to buy the time until we can reopen and start business again.”
The governor’s order is set to come to an end when the state of emergency ceases, and there have been some indications from the state’s top officials that things could start opening up soon enough.
Dr. Rubenstein said Miami is one of the more popular cities for cosmetic surgery. He said that while he believes what he does helps people be more comfortable with themselves and live richer lives, he understands why elective surgery has been put on hold for the time being.
“I have no illusion to think that this is an important thing within the world of medicine,” he said. “It’s important to the people having the procedures, but this is not something that is necessary or vital, so in times like this, I can’t feel upset about not being able to work.”