COVID-19 and primary care

This issue also covers personal protective equipment and retirement planning.


The novel coronavirus has rapidly reshaped medicine and society since its emergence in the U.S. earlier this year. While most critical care has happened in hospitals, primary care has also seen monumental changes, from overnight adoption of telemedicine to rescheduling of chronic care to, now, tentative plans to again begin to see patients in person. Our story offers perspectives from five internists at practices throughout the country to find out how and when they first began to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, what they're doing now, and how they plan to move forward this summer and fall into an as-yet-uncertain future.

All the uncertainty in the world right now can be especially overwhelming for those in health care, who are dealing with these all-encompassing changes while at the same time fighting to control the pandemic. In our story in this issue, Senior Writer Mollie Frost talks to physicians who are experts in well-being to get their top 10 tips on managing stress and keeping a balance during these unprecedented times. Among other advice they offered, flexibility, community, and gratitude are key.

It's well known that the United States has struggled with a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, ACP released its New Vision for the U.S. Health Care System, advocating for better coverage and other reforms that could help combat diseases like this one. ACP President Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, discusses ACP's plan, its reception among the membership and the general public, and why insurance coverage and a strong investment in public health are vital to managing COVID-19 in particular and the health care system in the United States in general. Hear more from Dr. Fincher on COVID-19, the resulting economic crisis, and renewed calls for racial equity in America in her President's Message column.

Also in this issue, a feature details why some infectious diseases subspecialists think face shields may be a potential way to address shortages of personal protective equipment in hospitals and clinics and transmission in the community. A Q&A shows how one practice in rural Ohio has been conducting primary care visits in the clinic parking lot for patients who don't have access to adequate telemedicine equipment at home. And in non-COVID-19 news, a feature discusses planning for retirement and why physicians especially should try to ensure they have something to retire to, not just from.

As always, we at ACP are thinking of you, your staff, and your patients at this time. Please let us know how you're doing and what information we can provide to help you. We'd love to hear from you at acpinternist@acponline.org.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Kearney-Strouse
Executive Editor, ACP Internist