Your stories: COVID-19 takes over our lives

Now in the fourth week of publishing comments, readers tell us how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their practice, their health and their finances.
By HIMSS News
09:59 AM

In March, we asked our readers to share their stories of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting them, both personally and professionally. Here is our fourth installment of collecting responses from our readers.  

From the beginning of this global pandemic, the HIMSS Media information brands – Healthcare IT NewsMobiHealthNews, and Healthcare Finance News – have been working to bring you important information and updates on the situation. But we felt that our readers, from healthcare providers to tech professionals, administrators, insurers, investors, entrepreneurs and others, could best tell us what they're seeing on the front lines and in their daily lives.

We are updating responses weekly. Please send us your stories to yourstories@himss.org. We ask that you include your name, position, city and state/region, and country. Please let us know if you’d prefer your story to be shared without your name attached. If you do, we’ll honor that request. Comments may be edited for length and content.

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Our HIMSS Media publications want to share your stories, in your words. We’re living in a strange, often scary, new world. Let’s learn from each other and get through it together.

‘I had difficulty breathing and they told me I still had to wait’

April 3

Ricardo Quintana
Hesperia, California

I was recently hospitalized for COVID-19. I was at Victor Valley Global Medical Center, which took care of me well, I just couldn't eat. This was actually the second hospital I had to go to, the first [was] in Apple Valley, California, which sent me inside, asked me questions, did my vitals, then an X-ray. Then they stopped. They had me sitting and were further processing people that had gotten there after me. I finally mentioned to them of my difficulty in breathing and they told me I still had to wait, I had no choice than to leave right then and there. I could feel my health deteriorating. My wife had to drive me to the Victor Valley Hospital. 

Update: April 17

I have recovered recently from COVID 19. I get very hot and sweat now and then, and my heart feels different now. The health department said they wouldn't retest me and said that I should be good after quarantine, I'm working again. I truck drive and I deliver hay for export to China, which for some reason never stopped, so I may have contracted the virus from that.

Coronavirus is a crisis of health and financial stability

April 4

Sandra Eichler
Wilmington, Delaware
Self-employed professional house- and pet-sitter

Thanks and blessings to all sharing such impactful and heartfelt stories. We need to unite and help one another.

I am excited to see unemployment expanding. I have been allowed to apply as a 1099 contractor and repeatedly updated my income only to be given $80 a week based on a seasonal job I held a year ago. Nothing about my full-time earnings based on three different corrections by me. Needless to say this will not pay my rent or car.

Then I decided to be proactive and apply to a grocery store, to find out I was exposed to COVID-19 due to one of their HR employees having it. Now I sit and wait to see do I lose my entire life first or die from COVID-19? I continue to pray for us all. I have always been positive but I’m not able to see the good in this one.

The exceptions are the extremely wealthy sector that thinks this is a vacation and wonderful time to utilize all their devices and have a staycation. I don’t begrudge them but fail to see where some of us are in this together.

Update, April 17

Well I thankfully was with someone with COVID-19, but do not have it. Health and safety to you and all readers and family members.

I am getting nowhere since I am a 1099 contractor and have not had a paycheck in a month. I can get nowhere online and all I keep hearing is the websites are updating in 3 to 6 weeks for 1099 and the self-employed. I fear it will be much too late. I was doing great but now have no clients and zero work. 

The stimulus check is not working for 1099 or contractors as well. We desperately need it but since most of us end up owing federal taxes each year the checks will be mailed and I pray to the correct address. This is such a tragedy for all. I don’t know if I will die of lack of funds rather than COVID-19.

Small business owner sees no hope of staying in business

April 17

Joseph Bonavita
Wilmington, Delaware
Bonavita Cleaning Services

I received your email from a very close friend of mine by the name of Sandra Eichler. I am a licensed and fully-insured business owner for over 20 years. I, like Sandra Eichler, receive a 1099 status for my business. I receive at least 10 1099’s for my services to offices. I cannot receive any unemployment benefits due to this status.

My taxes for 2019 are completed and paid for. I expect the offices to reopen in the next three weeks, but I am paying bills with savings at this time. No hope in sight for any filing status to collect anything with the way my small business is set up. The labor board does not have any filing status in place as of today.

Why not? A paper check will most likely be mailed to me for $1,200 dollars for the subsidy but that’s it. I will go under in three weeks for sure. I’m operating at about 20% of my true income because I am still servicing two open mandated businesses.

COVID-19 treatment calls for specific ventilators

April 2

Anonymous concerned physician working with COVID-19 patients

Are the ventilators being talked about with such enthusiasm by POTUS actually going to be suitable for treating the lung injury seen in COVID-19?

Will they interface with EHRS?  Be able to display flow-volume and pressure-volume curves?  Have alarms?

I’m hoping someone knows the answer to my questions.

Teledermatology will likely remain after COVID-19 crisis is over

April 13

Dr. Nana Duffy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Rochester Regional Health, New York

The amount of patients coming into the office has dramatically decreased. Aside from true dermatological emergencies requiring in-person care, we’re mainly communicating with patients through video visits, which present challenges unique to the specialty.

In dermatology, the organ of interest is the skin. We need to see it really well, in all of its three-dimensional detail, as we’re trained to make diagnoses based on morphology. That means we need to see if something is flat or raised, if it’s smooth or scaled, if it has blisters or not. When we communicate with patients and we’re trying to make a diagnosis, we don’t just need an image, but a really good image. We need the camera to basically function as our eyes. In my experience over the past few weeks, I would say 50% of the images sent by patients have been usable and 50% have been completely unusable. Without a good image, I can’t make an accurate diagnosis.

Last year we were thinking of telehealth as something we could potentially leverage, and now we have no choice. When video visits work well, it’s actually a great convenience for the patient. I anticipate that teledermatology will be something we offer more widely to patients in the future, even after the COVID-19 surge.

Protecting seniors while maintaining connections is vital

April 17

Moshe Pinto, CEO
Wider Circle
Redwood City, California  

In California and across the U.S., seniors are in isolation to protect themselves against COVID-19. In these circumstances, it is more critical than ever for Americans to extend care to our most vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors. Whether through a simple phone call or by running an errand for an older individual, we must all take it upon ourselves to stay in touch with and help connect seniors to local resources they may need.

Thanks to food banks, hyper-local organizations and large and small business donations, resources for vulnerable seniors are available; however, getting them distributed during the pandemic remains a problem. Fortunately, community-level peer-to-peer support groups, backed by community-outreach organizations and funded by payors, are stepping up to the challenge.

Moving their in-person community meetings to a user-friendly online platform that anyone can access by smartphone or computer, these peer-to-peer support groups are making it easy for seniors to stay connected with one another, and voice any needs they have. These meetings are led by culturally competent, trained facilitators, who are then able to direct help to seniors through community-outreach organizations. Equally important, they provide a way for older adults to stay engaged in their communities, improving their emotional well-being and countering feelings of helplessness and anxiety. 

Through these digital check-ins, seniors in your community are sharing their individual needs for social connection, telemedicine, food or medication. This, in turn, is opening up new lines of communication and social interaction by allowing them to virtually meet others in their community through buddy-check programs – giving members a sense of purpose and countering feelings of helplessness and anxiety.

As U.S. states continue to experience COVID-19 surges, we must look to implement hyper-local resources to personally reach out to our seniors and get them the resources they desperately need. In doing so, our urban and rural senior communities alike can create meaningful connections and help to improve their emotional well-being. 

We need each other now more than ever, and together we can all help create meaningful connections.

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