My doctor called me yesterday seeking my opinion on a new hospital policy. We have worked together for over 20 years, so I was not surprised when he called. I was shocked, dumbfounded, enraged and saddened by what he told me. I slept poorly last night. It’s like we are all trapped in the same nightmare, and it keeps getting worse.
First, you need a little background information to fully understand my flood of emotions. One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was when I realized that I’d have to give up inpatient hospital care.
When you are hospitalized is when you need your doctor the most. You need to know that your caregiver knows you, cares about you and that, in turn, you know him/her. Unfortunately, as I aged, seeing patients in the hospital and office (working 14-16 hours a day) became too much. Rounding at 6 am and 7:30 pm was difficult. Being awakened at all hours of the night by nurses seeking orders for sleep aids, indigestion, labs, IV solutions, etc. became impossible.
My solution was to start using the hospitalist as my in-house resident and follow my patients by phone and computer. I got to sleep through the night and my patients were, whether they knew it or not, remotely supervised by me. If there were any problems, I would show up at the hospital.
Flash forward to today. Apparently, the new hospital policy is to admit all Covid-19 positive patients to one of three hospitalist who work for a large group of hospitalists. At a time when your life is threatened by an unseen terrorist, you no longer will be under the care of the doctor you know and trust. You will be isolated, in the hospital, ALONE since family and friends will not be allowed to visit. Yes, your worst possible nightmare is now real.
To make matters even worse. Your family will be communicating, over the phone or by text, with a total stranger. As an adult patient, you will have to cope with seeing a stranger, being without family, friends and your doctor. When I try to imagine how a five-year-old patient is supposed to cope with this, all I can do is cry!
Covid-19 has brought madness into our world! So, what can we do? SHELTER IN PLACE! IF YOU FEEL SICK, CALL YOUR DOC. HELP YOUR ELDERS.
If you are admitted to the hospital, demand to see your own doc (assuming that he is on staff and still cares for inpatients). If hospital regulations preclude you from seeing your own doc, hire him/her as a consultant. Share this blog with friends and family.
Once upon a time, my opinion not only mattered, but helped to form hospital policy. Now, the Press Ganey report on patient satisfaction drives hospital policy. Let your local hospital administrator know that you want your private doc to care for you if you are hospitalized, especially if you have a life-threatening disease. I certainly would want Dr Bianchi at my bedside if I was admitted with Covid-19.
While you are sharing my nightmare, there is one more task you should do. Make sure your family knows how aggressive you want your doc to be if you should need to be placed on a ventilator or resuscitated. Your spouse and children should have a clear picture of what you want.
Tomorrow, I’ll explain why your children should be in the know!