My fellow physicians and medical students, as I write these words it appears that in the days and weeks to come that we here in Texas will be faced with the global pandemic of COVID-19. Although I hope we can be spared the brunt of this disease, it is incumbent upon us to prepare for the statewide and nationwide spread of this coronavirus: SARS-CoV-2.
It’s time to prepare.
No doubt our patients and communities will turn to us for leadership and guidance. It is our professional responsibility to provide them with timely and accurate information regarding this threat, based on science, not hysteria.
Our Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Texas Department of State Health Services have all set up websites with daily updates.
Now is the time for ALL physicians, no matter specialty or mode of practice, to educate ourselves on current recommendations and best practices. As this virus becomes more widespread, every practicing physician potentially will have the responsibility of seeing infected patients. As the leaders of the health care team, it will be our responsibility to ensure that our team members are educated, prepared, and confident that they can help us treat our patients without undue risk to themselves.
It’s time to prepare.
I know for a fact that we, the physicians of Texas, will stand up and put our patients first. We always have, and we always will. As physicians, we are all keenly aware that we have an ethical obligation to provide urgent medical care in the event of an emergency of this type. This obligation puts our health, and even our lives, at risk. We accept this risk. But with appropriate precautions and education, we also can minimize the risk.
This virus seems to disproportionately affect the elderly. To my senior colleagues (you know who you are), I ask you to take special care. You have stepped into the breach many times before. Perhaps it’s time for you to let the younger physicians be the ones who are on the front lines. We need to preserve your collective wisdom to guide us through the next few months.
It’s time (for you and for all of us) to prepare.
In the near future, we stand to face challenges to our resources, our workforce, and even our finances. Many of us will be out of our comfort zone (myself included). Our mettle will be tested. We must rely on our colleagues with expertise in this area. We must rely on our training. We must rely on science and reason. I have no doubt that the physicians of Texas will care for their patients with distinction. I pray for our patients, physicians, the health care team, and all effected by COVID-19.
Now, let’s get busy. It’s time to prepare.