Life After COVID-19: Are We There Yet?
By Christian Altman, MD
In the year since we began living and working through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have become well accustomed to social distancing, ubiquitous mask-wearing, and limiting (or even eliminating) gathering with friends and family. In the midst of yet another spike in new coronavirus infections, many hospital systems are now inching toward or past full capacity.
Despite how grim the current situation sounds, there are reasons to begin envisioning a post-COVID-19 existence. We have two vaccines with efficacy rates above 90% for preventing symptomatic infections being distributed nationwide, and states are working quickly to vaccinate healthcare workers and others in the population. However, public health experts anticipate that much of 2021 will pass before enough people are vaccinated that society will look anything like it did pre-pandemic. Even though many of us in the healthcare field will be fully vaccinated soon, we will continue wearing masks and other PPE in the workplace to protect patients and staff members who are yet to enjoy protective immunity from the virus.
At Mobile Anesthesiologists we deliver anesthetics for office-based procedures. Our patients are typically on the healthier side, safe to be sedated in an outpatient location not attached to a hospital. As efforts have increased to preserve personal protective equipment for the COVID-19 fight, we have transitioned to sedating mostly patients requiring immediate outpatient procedures. While our patient population has temporarily shifted toward those with additional comorbidities, we remain vigilant about proceeding safely with each patient. At the same time we have further increased screening procedures and are donning extra protective equipment to protect our patients, our staff, our families, and ourselves.
With ongoing uncertainty about when the COVID-19 pandemic will subside, now is the time to perform more procedures in the office-based setting. During 2020 many patients postponed recommended screening and other elective procedures due to concerns about being exposed to COVID-19 in medical facilities. In addition to avoiding further delays, scheduling procedures for appropriate patients in the office setting frees up scarce hospital resources for sicker patients during this time of limited hospital capacity. While many patients are still hesitant to enter a hospital facility due to the risk of encountering sick, contagious people, booking elective procedures in the smaller, more customized office environment eases patient anxiety while increasing both convenience and efficiency. Patients also appreciate the lower costs associated with undergoing elective procedures in the office domain compared with the more expensive hospital setting. Furthermore, physicians benefit from performing their cases in the office setting through the ease of scheduling, efficiency of procedure day workflow, and absence of competition with other specialists for procedure room time.
Mobile Anesthesiologists has been a reliable partner for our clients over the past 25 years, including during the highest points of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to be there to care for your outpatient sedation needs as the pandemic subsides. As we all navigate the new healthcare landscape that has emerged over the past year, we are ready to partner with you to enhance outpatient care and efficiency. Our team is doing everything it can to stay healthy, and we look forward to seeing you soon.