Lessons learnt from COVID19 as a Hospitalist

What did we learn from this pandemic being a hospitalist or health care professional?

Over the last few months, life as we know has drastically altered around the world. COVID19 has brought with it a wave of sick people and death, but it also highlighted some critical life lessons.

Being a hospitalist can be a tough job, especially right about now with this pandemic. If nothing else, a lot of issues that were hidden but faced by healthcare professionals have been unveiled by the COVID19 pandemic.

Some of the things the hospitalists can learn from this pandemic are:

1. Be prepared all the time; an other pandemic is always possible:

With the globalization, the people are travelling far more than in the past. If a pandemic starts again, we should be mentally and physically be ready. I think most hospitals should have private rooms instead of semi-private rooms from now on. Every floor should probably have the capability to be an isolation room with negative pressure capability. With many deadly viral diseases like EBOLA, MERS, SARS etc a so many more, it is just a matter of time when the next pandemic can happen. Idea is not to be anxious but to be well prepared in future. Ideally, it is better to have a set up at home where in you can quarantine yourself from your family in your basement by arranging a bed room, refrigerator, full bathroom etc in the basement.

2. Always have couple of pairs of Scrubs handy:

Wearing scrubs keeps us comfortable during our Long shifts and heavy PPE use. It is easy to leave them in the hospital laundry instead of taking them home, there by preventing spreading of germs, especially during the COVID19 pandemic.

3. Telemedicine for Hospitalists:

While working as a hospitalist, you might have noticed that too many people in the hospital floors just slow you down. COVID19 pandemic has also shown that in this era, telemedicine is quite helpful. Every hospital bed should be equipped with telemedicine capability for hospitalists.

4. Health is the most important asset:

Working as a hospitalist, you have to take care of your health both mental and physical. A lot of things we deemed essential so far have turned out to be not so important after all. All that we wanted during these hard times is just being healthy and being alive. Do not smoke. Watch weight. Teach health tips to kids.

5. Masks and social distancing should continue in future:

It would not be surprising if we stop shaking hands after 2020. This is an undeniable fact that a lot of norms will be changed when the COVID19 pandemic is over. One of them is wearing masks. You would see more people complying with this habit in coming flu season, as well as practicing social distancing in the coming years.

6. Have your own back up PPE and disinfectants:

COVID19 pandemic has shown that, well, we don’t have enough PPEs. A lot of hospitalists and other health care professionals who succumbed to this virus could have been saved if they had proper equipment for their protection. If we look ahead of the blame game and want to learn from the present, one thing any healthcare professional can do for the future is to have some back up N95 and surgical masks as well as disinfectant wipes, because there could be never be enough of those during pandemic situation.

7. Have multiple sources of income for doctors:

We have seen lot of doctors were furloughed during this pandemic. Times like these can make hospitalists sick or may make hospitalists to take a break if any family member gets sick. It is essential to have multiple streams of income so when things overwhelm you, you can still keep getting some income. Having a fat emergency fund is also important if one dose not have a second source of income. Hospitalists should have good financial education as well; getting your hand on a few finance courses or reading a couple of personal finance books does not hurt anyone. So, they can manage their finances better to handle these kind of situations better.

8. Having Part-time hospitalists in the team can help handle the surges better:

With the sudden surge in patients, the demand of hospitalists can go up suddenly like in NYC. It is always good to have a few part time hospitalists who work 0.5 FTE under normal circumstances so that they can help fill the gaps during these unforeseen situations. This availability also helps those who want to just work part time to prevent burnout or to have better work-life balance.

9. One should learn to cut their own hair:

Although not related to medicine, having property trimmed hair gives a professional look. During this COVID19 pandemic, social distancing has resulted in zero trips to the salon. Learning to cut your own hair can help you look professional during these hard times.

10. Every Healthcare professional to use social media for widespread patient education:

Social media has emerged as tool to educating the masses in this era. Various doctors who also work as bloggers have taken initiative to educate people and reduce further spread of this disease. Its time that hospitalists also use these social media platforms to reach masses and educate them. If every health care professional immediately starts health education to the public through social media when something like this pandemic happens, it could potentially reduce the spread of infections.

11. Utilization of primary care health care professionals in hospital medicine:

The shortage of hospitalists due to a sudden increase in patient load has resulted in an increasing demand for doctors. Many other departments have mobilized their teams to help ER and Medicine. This shines a light on an essential issue of PCPs getting some hospital-based experience, so for future needs, they could be utilized in cases of emergencies. This blog may help train those PCPs quickly to be able to do hospitalist work.

12. Having a home workout schedule instead of going to gym:

Staying fit can keep you healthy, but exercise also increases your mental health, too. During a pandemic like a coronavirus, it’s crucial not to give up on your fitness habit just because you can’t get to the gym, attend an aerobics class, or play a sport. This is helpful for our wellbeing in these depressive times. 

13. Sick patients from Pandemic are more in urban than rural areas:

This fact is very understandable as cities are more crowded and mobile. If any infectious outbreak starts anywhere in the world next time, we should be extra cautious travelling in public transport in big cities. Avoid getting exposed in the hospital to any sick person with respiratory symptoms by wearing appropriate PPE. Just have to be extra careful in cities.

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