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COVID Kindness

Susan J. Baumgaertel, MD knows it's rare to see the words “COVID” and “kindness” next to each other. Her story is less a story about COVID and more one about the human touch.

It’s probably rare that you see the words “COVID” and “kindness” next to each other.

But, this is less a story about COVID and more one about the human touch.

Medical care these days can be quite challenging to navigate.

Phone queues can sometimes be more than one hour, portal messaging can be delayed by days, and getting a timely appointment with your physician can be nearly impossible.

So, when I got suddenly sick with COVID just a few days ago, I knew I had to be my own best advocate. Being a physician can be good and bad in this situation: good because I know the system and know what treatment I need; bad because I know the system is literally almost broken.

 

Being a physician can be good and bad when you're sick: good because you know the system and know what treatment you need; bad because you know the system is literally almost broken. Click To Tweet

 

I recognize that every facility––hospital, clinic, medical center––is woefully understaffed. I also recognize that COVID fatigue from a medical staff perspective is gargantuan. I’m also aware of so many people just recently diagnosed with COVID––I’ve lost track of what “wave” this is.

 

Feeling like total dog meat, I reached out to my personal physician Milah.

She was instantly available by text and phone (concierge practice).

Because of my underlying medical conditions, I am at high risk for complications or hospitalization due to COVID, so she quickly set to work on arranging a monoclonal antibody infusion. Her medical assistant Mireya was so helpful.

Early this morning I drove to the local hospital ER where the infusion was to be administered followed by one hour of monitoring per protocol.

Upon arrival I stayed in my car as directed and called to alert them I was checking in. To my shock, Mike (triage?) said “I’m so sorry, the ER is full of sick patients and the waiting room is also full, we are not going to be able to do your infusion.”

 

What?!!

I was feeling really sick and was tempted to just check in as an ER patient (but knew that would not go over well), so I sat in my car and wrote out a few texts expressing my frustration (with a few choice words), sending them to my physician and my husband.

I had decided that advocating for myself was in order and had told Mike that “I am a physician and after taking care of patients for almost 30 years, you mean to tell me that I can’t get care in a time of urgent need?”

I had never tossed my title around, but it just felt like the right thing to do in the moment.

 

As “luck” would have it, after sitting in my car feeling miserable for 20 minutes, Mike called back and stated that a room had opened up and I could come in. Magic!

Strangely, the ER was like a ghost town when I entered and there were zero people in the waiting room, so I believe Mike was misinformed.

A wonderful RN Ken took me back and made me feel so cared for in everything he did.

A 40 year veteran RN, he was excellent.

Then the ER physician Kelvin came in and was so kind and relaxed, really a gem.

The infusion went well, no side effects, I was monitored for one hour then I drove myself home.

 

During this process my physician Milah had been texting me to make sure things were going well.

When I logged into the patient portal I had a message waiting from one of her other medical assistants, Jennifer.

I had been concerned that my insurance wasn’t going to cover ER care for just an infusion, but she had called ahead and verified coverage for me and gave me a full explanation.

I could breathe again, knowing I was getting excellent care. Thanks to Milah, Mireya, Ken, Kelvin and Jennifer––the dream team (sorry Mike, you didn’t make the cut)!

 

All this to say the following points:

  • Having a personal physician who is available and serves as my advocate is golden
  • Physician office staff kindness, support and efficiency is the absolute best
  • A veteran RN with decades of experience is irreplaceable
  • A kind and caring ER physician is so reassuring

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