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LMS President’s Message – May 2020

LMS President’s Message, May, 2020
Our Adjustment to the New Normal
By Mamata Majmundar, MD

The impact of the COVID came at us in shocks. The first shock was the beginning of the stock market crash that began as a tremor on Feb. 20 and then a deep dive on Feb. 24th and beyond. On March 6th the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Kentucky and Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency. A week later the NBA cancelled their season, the SEC tournament was cancelled, and the U.S. declared a national state of emergency. Within the next ten days everything but life sustaining activities shut down. The new normal was here. Our May newsletter focuses on how our healthcare systems have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and how our physicians our leveraging telehealth. Additionally, we are excited to report an expansion of the Lexington Medical Society Physician Wellness Program (LMS PWP) for UK medical students and offer an online video workshop resource called “The Pandemic Survival Guide for Physicians” by Dike Drummond, MD.

Our hospitals report a deliberate, carefully orchestrated transition from normal operations to our new COVID-19 environment. Common threads were the implementation of “no visitor” policies, telehealth, developing COVID patient and staff protocols, and the reduction of elective procedures and temporary staff reductions. Reporting their health systems efforts are Baptist Health Lexington’s Chief Medical Officer, James Borders, MD. Reporting for CHI Saint Joseph Health is their Chief Medical Officer Dan Goulson, MD and Travis Sewalls, MD, the Chief Medical Officer for Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph East, and Saint Joseph Jessamine. Reporting for UK Healthcare is their Director, Medical Campus Public Relations, Kristi Willett, interviewing a number of their senior leadership physicians. The healthcare systems are now in the midst of a phased transition to reopening of healthcare services, but under COVID-19 related restrictions.

We gathered a number of perspectives from our physicians on their increased use of telehealth. All report that telehealth has helped keep their patients and staff safe, is relatively easy to use in our smartphone-equipped world and have worked out procedures to make it work to the extent medically possible. Offering their telehealth experiences and perspective are Allison Cook, MD, Danesh Mazloomdoost, MD, Gregory Osetinsky, MD, and Charles Papp, MD. Mark Dougherty, MD offers a video on how he uses telehealth to conserve PPE in a hospital setting.

Dr. Dougherty was able to get the assistance of Congressman Andy Barr to advocate the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow same-site telehealth to count as a face-to-face code for the in-person service furnished.

The LMS PWP program was started in January 2016 in response to the high level of physician burn out and stress. The program, which provides 8 free counseling sessions per calendar year, was originally designed as a safe harbor for physicians to address normal life difficulties in a confidential and professional environment. The program was expanded in July 2016 to include the UK residents. We are proud to announce, with our UK College of Medicine partners, the inclusion of not only their residents, but the addition of their medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows at UK in Lexington and their extended campuses in Bowling Green, Northern Kentucky, and Morehead. Our program is contracted with the Woodland Group and is currently using teletherapy due to COVID-19.

Finally, LMS is renewing our relationship with Dike Drummond, MD to help our members deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Drummond is a family practice doctor and executive coach who has worked with over 40,000 doctors in the last ten years, helping them prevent and treat physician burnout – another transformational crisis for doctors. We last worked with Dr. Drummond back in 2016 when he presented a seminar on physician burnout at our Physicians’ Day at Keeneland. The event and his presentation were well received and earned high marks. Dr. Drummond has created an online video training workshop called the “Pandemic Survival Guide for Physicians.” He is offering access to LMS members at a nearly 40% discount. LMS receives no financial gains with this offer nor has any financial relationship with Dr. Drummond. I have personally previewed the material and found it very helpful, informative, and provides a useful framework to deal with the pandemic.

Our newsletter next month will report how various private practices have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening. We will have a report from UK medical students who responded to the call for help from our state to assist in COVID-19 support. Thank you to all our members who are at the forefront of COVID-19 patient care and for adjusting to restrictive social distancing measures that have challenged us personally and professionally. Be sure to utilize the latest COVID-19 healthcare updates. Be safe.

Mamata Majmundar, MD