I have the privilege to work in a unique medical setting, I work in physical medicine. I don’t see
“sick patients” or “emergencies.” I see patients who are in pain and suffer from physical
dysfunction of their activities of daily living. When COVID-19 first hit, our patient visit numbers
dropped significantly, understandably. Our privately owned physical medicine, physical therapy, weight loss and chiropractic office never closed the doors; we take all precautions necessary and have stayed available to patients from the very start of the pandemic.
Our medical assistant became a full time COVID-19 screener camped at the front door at all
times during patient hours. We developed a screening form for patients. Our MA asks patients the questions, completes the form, checks the patient’s vital signs and if the patient passes the screening the MA will send them back for their scheduled appointment. If a patient happens to fail the screening in any way they are sent home, this is pretty rare as most of our patients have enough common sense that if they have a fever, cough or other symptoms or have been in known contact with someone with COVID-19, they stay home to begin with and don’t come to the office.
By the middle of May we started getting patients coming in with pains they necessarily hadn’t
had before, they were coming in with neck pain, headaches and low back pain related to their
new daily routine. Such as, sitting more at home, increased stress load, using the computer more, working from home and not having an ideal workstation set up. Example, they were working while sitting in bed or on the couch. We also had a large number of people come in with new exercise related injuries because they weren’t able to go to the gym and do their normal routine and had to improvise with a different exercise routine.
From a business perspective we did take losses, with decreased patient numbers, all of us went part time for awhile and four employees were furloughed. Some patients who come in have been furloughed or lost their jobs due to the pandemic or their spouses have, leaving them with no health insurance. The worry in peoples faces about insurance and finances is absolutely heart breaking. Currently, I feel like it has leveled out to an extent but we are no where near the patient visit numbers we were at this time last year, which is expected.
One of the positives I feel that we provide for patients that enter our office is an upbeat
environment. Even before the pandemic our office provided this for patients. We have an
awesome team of staff members who genuinely care and love people. You can usually hear
laughter throughout the building somewhere, we don’t have the news or other negative material on television in the office, we have motivational quotes and scripture on the walls for everyone to see, Christian music is playing on the radio and there are always smiles to be seen. I’ve heard numerous patients say that coming to our office is the highlight of their day and they always leave feeling better physically, mentally and emotionally.
In the past few months and current time, more than anything, people need to see and feel
positivity. There is so much negative going on in the world right now, everyone needs sunshine in their life and a lot of people have trouble finding that silver lining. I feel like now more than ever my team and myself have had the opportunity to help people get the light back into their life.