From shutdowns and unknowns to allaying patient fears and reclaiming professional lives, indeed, the private practice goes on.
Fall is around the corner and I sense that there is a true sense of optimism in the air among both colleagues and patients. Just like the stock market and real estate market, most of our practices seem to have made up most, if not all, of the ground we lost during the mandatory shut down. It seems as if it should have been just the opposite, if we believed in the “sky is falling” narrative espoused by much of the country’s mainstream media. Reality is reality and many of us have been through major slowdowns in both the 80s and 90s and post 9/11, as well as the housing bubble collapse. The effect on our practices mirrored the fear of those times, but not this time around!
So what is the difference? Surely high unemployment and increasing reliance on government bailouts would put all of our patients on the sidelines and tank the various markets. However, it is clear that the fear mongers have not prevailed and most of us in medicine can see a light at the end of this dark pandemic tunnel. Our practices are often bellwethers of what is perhaps around the corner.
Most of us refused to be frightened to the sidelines and returned to work as soon as the government allowed us to reopen our doors. We not only did we open our doors, but we provided a beacon of light and hope to our patients. We did things the right way. Yes, we masked up, socially distanced, washed our hands a hundred times a day, geared up with PPE, provided leadership for our respective staff members, and reassurance for our loyal patients. We should be very proud of how we all reacted amid this crisis, and together we have strengthened our specialty.
There will still be bumps in the road. The winter will still offer confusion. We are not out of the woods yet, but the light is shining in through the tall trees. We have confidence that Operation Warp Speed will produce an effective vaccine in less than six months and then we will meet the next challenge of getting this vaccine to hundreds of millions of patients around the globe. We are also confident that our brightest minds will also come up with additional therapeutics that will reduce the veracity of this horrible disease.
Meanwhile, we will keep doing what we are doing. The “new norm” is not necessarily going away immediately, but hopefully we will start seeing normalcy return to our lives within months, not years. Between colds, influenza, and COVID-19 infections, hospital beds may once again be filled. However, let’s all be proud that our profession has not succumbed to fear and instead has chosen to restore as much normalcy as possible and set the example for others to follow. I feel proud every time I see a sign that says, “heroes work here.” Our profession has avoided the politics and done what we have always done and that is take care of patients.