Sitting in my office right before the start of my primary care clinic, I studied my list of patients for the day. But instead of preparing for the warm greeting and handshake, the quick survey of the patient’s facial expressions, comportment, clothing, ability to get out of the waiting room chair, and gait, I found myself looking up phone numbers and determining which of my encounters I was to conduct by phone or video. The rapid change in how I interact with patients in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic feels dizzying. As a physician at a Veterans Affairs medical center, due to the advanced age and numerous medical problems of most of my patients, I try to be vigilant about external forces that might affect their care. Just 2 weeks before, my concern about COVID-19 felt more abstract; 1 week prior, in addition to the typical prioritization of topics to cover, I found myself comforting patients in person over their worries about the emergence of COVID-19 and reminding them of the personal protective measures they could take. But on this day, the threats of infection, disability, and death were very real for my patients—and, increasingly, for me as well... (continue reading at https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2374373520918739 ).
First published April 8, 2020 by The Journal of Patient Experience https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2374373520918739 journals.sagepub.com/home/jpx
Calvin L Chou is professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco. He directs VALOR, a longitudinal program based at the VA that emphasizes humanistic clinical skill development for UCSF medical students. He is also Senior Faculty Advisor for External Education with the Academy of Communication in Healthcare and teaches communication skills curricula to learners at all levels nationlly and internationally.