Capacity issues and burnout during the pandemic have been discussed at length in the media as it pertains to hospitals. What has generally been overlooked is the effects on the delivery of primary care. If you’re an adult, many of you have experienced offices that are refusing to see any sick patients and are sending them straight to the urgent care or the emergency room at the local hospital. For a general pediatric practice things tend to be a bit different, and very few will turn away all sick patients.
At Peds First, we set up an acute care site early in the pandemic to insulate the main office in order to continue to provide appropriate well care, lactation nurse services, psychological services, and all sorts of non-infectious concerning issues to our clients. That space was initially not intended for such use and has limitations on its physical capacity. This limitation is compounded by the inability for a provider to go between types of visit – they are either scheduled for well child care or acute care – running back and forth is not a real option most of the time. Oh yeah….the added attraction on capacity – providers can get Covid after vaccination like the rest of you. And that means quarantine. Imagine a rotation of quarantine in an office already strapped for capacity. Such is our reality.
The last few weeks we finally broke a bit. For the first time in our history we turned away folks seeking acute care. To put it in perspective, last December was pretty busy for as the winter Covid wave was crashing down. By the 13th of this December we surpassed last year’s visit volume. It is impossible to scale a business of our nature on a dime sufficiently. You are likely seeing similar issues elsewhere should you be driving past one of the better known urgent cares with lines around the corner.
Our staff was forced to draw the line the last few weeks because we have been staying a couple of hours late during the pandemic. Every single day. It’s one thing to step it up for a few weeks here and there. Maybe even a few months. It’s two years now. We are tired. Our families want to be together and we need to be there.
Why do I mention all this? A few reasons. First, I want you to understand that our staff loves what they do. What they want to do is look after the health and general well-being of our patients and their families. It’s why we have tried to even help parents and grandparents out in obtaining testing when needed or providing vaccines to them. They want to see you happy. Second, with that understanding comes my first plea to y’all. We know that everyone else is also burnt, frustrated, and generally stir crazy. Please please me and think twice before yelling and cursing at them. It is starting to break our spirit. It is non-stop, all day long. Third, and another plea to y’all. Please have the courtesy to cancel your appointment if not coming for it. Nearly 15% of the same day scheduled acute care patients do not show for their visit. With the courtesy of calling to cancel, we could accommodate many more of you each day. Remember, we really want to help you. Please help us accomplish that for as many as we can each day.
And for the final plea of the day, please get your Covid vaccine if you have yet to do so. I am not asking because I am scared your gonna kill me. I have even gotten my booster. I am asking because if you give me a cold due to Covid I am gonna have to quarantine. In all honesty, I might cherish that. I have literally taken less than 15 days off since this pandemic started to ensure we continue to serve the community to the best of our abilities. I am asking you for your own sake. I don’t want to see more of you suffer unnecessarily, or your children, as a result of your inability to care for them. As a bonus plan, perhaps when you, or a member of your family needs something basic like their ear looked at they won’t need to go to an emergency room. Or worse, when they need their appendix removed that same emergency room will not be so backlogged that they don’t get seen in time before it ruptures. This is your reality.