COVID-19 Update 4/20/20

We are continuing to offer testing that looks for a person’s reaction to COVID-19.  Though we are aware of the limitations of the antibody test that we’re using, it is the best option we have available at this time, so we continue to do them.  Any patient of Hickory is welcome to get the test - our next testing date is this Wednesday (4/22).

All of us at Hickory would like to start this note with thanks.  Our patients have been amazing through this and we’ve appreciated the chance to talk with many of you!  Your courage as you figure out work, family, and the quarantine has been an amazing example.  Our colleagues throughout the community have also been amazing - from Mary Rutan to the Costin Family Practice to Maple Leaf and the Health Department - there has been a real effort to both bring in testing and to get it out to the community.  Finally, to the leadership that gave a framework that kept this under control, we are deeply grateful. 

We would like to note that Mary Rutan now has same-day testing available.  This has taken a lot of work on their part and is immensely valuable in moving us closer to reopening.  It is only just getting started so the volume is low and must be focused only on the highest needs people right now, but this is a critical step in getting us back to work.

Regarding leadership, from the outside, it looks like everyone is asking the right questions and making the right efforts.  It is right to be pushing as hard as we can to reopen this economy - the costs of this closure are painfully high and the economic hardship is very real for many of us.  On the other hand, it is also true that a misstep now could be disastrous.  Premature or careless reopening will do more economic harm than the quarantine (read a bit on the resurgence of the Spanish Flu in 1918 to get an example of jumping the gun on reopening the economy.)  Whatever the case, there are clever and caring people who are making these arguments in our community and we are hopeful that our democracy is up to the task of making the hard decisions that lie ahead.

Finally, we’d like to speak a bit about our best guess at the coming months and what we are doing to contribute to a solution. 

The coming months - perhaps going all the way through 2021 - will be a balancing act.  We will try to go back to work with varying levels of success.  There will likely be outbreaks, but we are hopeful that testing will let us catch them early, support those who are sick, and keep the rest of us working.  While a vaccine is likely more than a year away, there is hope that we will find new treatments relatively soon which will make the disease less dangerous.  As testing allows us to contain outbreaks and treatment improves the economy will begin to reshape around these new abilities.  This is already starting to happen, and it is not clear when we will reach a new, stable normal.  Note that it is possible that we will not develop a vaccine and that immunity may not be long-term in people.  Even if this is the case, we will develop strategies that allow us to get back to our work and community life.

As far as our efforts at Hickory, we are continuing to do procedures, manage chronic disease, and generally be your doctor.  We are now able to do many visits through video, are available by phone, and will do in-person visits when they are needed and safe.  We are working with the tests we have and working hard to find better, faster, and more widely available testing so that we can keep Logan County ahead of the virus.  Additionally, we are connecting to a network of physicians, professors, and journalists who are reviewing most relevant publications about COVID treatments within 24 hours across multiple languages.  While there are no safe and reliable treatments at this time, there are literally thousands of treatments being tested and we will get information out to you as soon as we learn it ourselves. 

For now, please keep following Governor DeWine’s guidance.  Keep social distancing, support those around you, and (we would add) do all that you can for your own health (exercise, eat right, and stay on top of any recurring medical needs.)  We are so glad to be serving you and welcome your input, critique, insights, and questions.

Warm regards,

Rudi
 
Extra Credit: “Flattening the curve” (spreading out the disease so it doesn’t hit us all at once and break the system) has been a big piece of our strategy in Ohio and it has worked.  However, this means that we will have a very long period of time where we have just a few cases.  To get a feel for how the United States is doing and to look at how Ohio fits into that, take a look at Rt.live.