Living Well Now and Beyond: Gwendolyn Clark
On the subject of healthcare evolution since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am so pleased that telehealth has become more widely accepted. Personally, I don’t feel it will ever replace in-person visits, but my pulmonary doctors completely closed their in person services when COVID was at its worst because they were treating COVID patients who were hospitalized and wanted to reduce passing it on to others. I could call in and speak to a nurse, but doctors were unavailable at some times. It was scary to think of the doctors and their families having to sacrifice so much to protect and care for others. I was lucky to do well during that time.
The doctor who primarily provides care for my pulmonary arterial hypertension is a cardiologist. I mostly saw him in person when the pandemic was at its worst, but his office reduced the number of people he would see in one day, to decrease the chance patients would encounter one another in the waiting room and hallway. Everyone is masked at all times, and he limits his visits to 15 minutes, relying on his younger physician’s assistant to gather necessary information from me.
I did have to go into the hospital at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but luckily it was a one night stay unrelated to my PAH or COVID. My doctor was very protective of me, arranging the oxygen well in advance of my stay and reminded me I would have to provide my pulmonary hypertension drugs because the hospital would not have them in supply. Everyone who cared for me was masked and gloved, including the staff who brought my food trays, so I felt as safe as one could in that environment.
Since then, I have delayed some regular doctor visits, but am now mostly caught up with annual checkups. I find going to the doctors’ office kind of like gearing up for battle—wearing a high quality mask, practicing social distancing, being careful to see how many people are in the elevator. It all means I am still alert and cautious.