A Burden Shared is a Burden Halved
The COVID-19 crisis has demanded much of many and strained existing care resources like never before. For Access Physicians, however, it has also validated our telemedicine model as a means of leveraging scarce resources to ensure patients have access to essential care when and where they need it, and it has proven the worth of our core values.
From the largest of urban health systems to the smallest of critical access hospitals, our telemedicine programs have brought clinical excellence to the bedside through the marriage of technology and world-class specialists. And through it all, we have forged a team of committed health care professionals who give of themselves not only for their patients but for each other.
Small Hospital….Big Need
At the end of 2020 when COVID-19 cases spiked, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital — Sulphur Springs saw its census double. The increased demand for care required the addition of new ICU beds and opening unused hospital beds. But, while beds can be added, staffing to provide the specialized care to the patients in those beds can be a challenge, particularly as every hospital across the country is experiencing unprecedented staffing needs.
Access Physicians has an in-person hospitalist team of one physician and two advanced practice professionals at the Sulphur Springs hospital for daytime hospitalist coverage. Our tele-hospitalist team traditionally covers nights.
With increased demand for care from the increase in COVID-19 cases….every patient must be seen daily by a hospitalist…the stress on our in-person team was intense. We tried to assist with additional team members, but that couldn’t happen overnight. Patient care couldn’t wait so the team pulled together, drawing on Access Physicians’ core values of tenacity, kindness, integrity, and excellence. For many days in a row, they worked 15 hours a day or more to make sure every patient got the care they needed. Our telemedicine teams also helped. The tele-hospitalists took on daytime patient admissions via telemedicine to alleviate some of the in-person team’s care load. Our tele-pulmonary and critical care specialists provided support by managing the care of the hospitalists’ ICU patients. The concepts of team and teamwork were fully operationalized so that no patient was left behind, and no Access Physicians team member was alone.
This pandemic has tested all of us as health care professionals. But, we have also witnessed amazing examples of commitment, care, and courage. When we started Access Physicians, we knew our model of telemedicine for improving access to care and bolstering hospitals’ profitability was special. What we didn’t know was how much our team would care for each other and the lengths they would go to support each other through some of the most challenging professional circumstances they would ever experience.