by Brandi N. Ring, MD, FACOG, FAWM, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Mile High OB/GYN
Featured in the May-June 2020 Colorado Medicine Colorado Medicine.
This is an interesting time to be practicing medicine – on one hand everything is different but on the other hand it is all still the same. We are more cautious about some things, but the basics of our everyday care is the same: we treat the whole person, physically, mentally and emotionally.
In my specialty of obstetrics-gynecology, even in the midst of a pandemic, babies need to be born and they won’t wait for this to all be over. We have talked a lot about how much in medicine we don’t know yet and it highlights how dependent we are on science to guide our everyday practice. I’ve had many discussions in the last month about the risks and the benefits of all of the monitoring and visits we do, and a lot of educating about the importance of our routine tests and which ones we can shift earlier or later to decrease in-person visits. We have had to learn how to do visits without facial cues and body language, both through the barriers of masks while in person and the limitations of technology-assisted virtual visits. We try to minimize touch, missing out on important social connections and rapport building. The power of simple connection has never been so obvious as when it is not there. It is truly an exercise in adaptability.
The response from patients has been overwhelmingly positive. They are adapting with us and understand the need for changes to protect everyone. They bear the bumps and bruises of new procedures and technology and ever-changing information with us. We are also seeing an unprecedented amount of support from the community. From delivery of food to the nurses and staff working on Labor and Delivery, to the 8 p.m. “Howl” of support that brings me to tears nearly every night, the sense of community in Denver has never been more palpable.
My office in particular has been the gracious recipient of hundreds of homemade masks of all patterns both for staff to use over our medical masks to conserve our PPE and for our patients to wear during their visit to help protect us all. With the generosity of volunteers from the Colorado Medical Society sewing at home, we have been able to build a “Colorado Mask Project” station in our waiting room to allow all of our patients and visitors equal ability to use a mask for their visit. Every time a mask gets utilized it is a little reminder of all the people out there helping our community where they can – from the essential workers, to the stay-at-homers, to the at-home crafters. Everyone is doing their part to get through this tough time as a community so that we can all be together again soon.