In Your Own Words: Leslie Schwindel, M.D.
Posted April 20, 2020
KMA is sharing the first-person accounts of physicians from across the state as they prepare for and battle the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories will also be published at kyma.org/covid19. If you are interested in submitting an account, please email Emily Schott, email@example.com.
I have a general orthopedic practice, so I see everything from kids with broken arms to elderly with hip fractures and elective surgeries like joint replacements and carpal tunnel surgeries. Right now, we’re not doing any elective procedures. Our clinic is probably a third of our regular volume. We’re just seeing people with acute injuries, fractures, and people in severe pain──things that really can’t wait. Anything elective is being pushed out at least a month or two.
It’s really impacted the patients more than me. I’ve been lucky enough that I can still come to work every day, even if it’s reduced hours. I can still get out of the house and do something every day, which has been a blessing.
We diagnosed the first COVID-19 case in Kentucky. I think maybe the first seven or so were from our county. Since then, it’s really kind of calmed down here. Our hospital was probably a week or two ahead of most in the state as far as shutting things down and taking precautions.
We also have a cough clinic. I don’t know if anywhere else in the state is doing that. Every day from about 1 or 2 p.m. until 8 p.m., we have a special clinic where people can walk in if they have symptoms they’re concerned about and want to be screened. That way they can determine is it allergies, is it a cold, is it strep, or do we really need to be testing for COVID? They have a special entrance away from the hospital where they can come in. There’s a special staff there. Everything’s isolated so they’re not exposed to the general population.
It’s been nice to keep some of those people out of the ER or away from other people who are healthy and maybe they’re not very symptomatic yet, but they can be screened. If they need to be admitted or sent to the ER, then they can.
I’ve been very impressed with how we’ve handled things. Our CEO is a former nurse. She’s not just an administrator. She really gets the patient care side and the medical side. She’s been very proactive. The day after this happened, we started spreading out all the chairs in the waiting room six feet apart, no visitors are allowed in the hospital and anybody who comes in gets their temperature screened. We’ve been taking our temperatures every day for three or four weeks now.
It concerns me that our population in Kentucky is not always the healthiest. I worry that if people aren’t really cognizant of social distancing, how bad it could get here. With our hospital administrators and our governor, we’ve had really excellent guidance──probably one of the best responses in the country on keeping everybody healthy and socially distant. I’ve been really proud on how our state’s handled that.
I know people want to open the state back up soon, and I think there may be a role for that, but if we’re not careful about how we do it, things could get worse and that worries me a little bit.