Viewpoint from the Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic: present and future

I am writing this during the height of the coronavirus. Like everyone, I have no idea of the ultimate scope of the pandemic: how long it will last, the total number of people infected, the impact on the US economy, etc. There are fear and concerns about loved ones and job security in every community across the country.

Many of you, our readers, have been laid off, your doctors and administrators having struggled with the necessity of this difficult decision. One of the multiple differences that sets ophthalmology apart from other disciplines is the familial connection between your practice leaders and staff members, patients and colleagues.

Health-care workers are to be commended for their dedication at the risk of their own personal health. While you may not be on the front lines, as most ophthalmic surgeries have been postponed and patient visits limited to emegent cases, you are members of this elite group. Hopefully, by the time this issue goes to press, restrictions are lifted and your practice is gearing back up.

Moving forward ...

What can you do? If you are still out of work, or working less than your regularly scheduled hours, use this time to take care of yourself — both physically and intellectually. For example, (maintaining a safe social distance) take a walk with a co-worker who has the same certification goals and discuss topics and skills. Identify areas where you can improve professionally. Then, read up on these topics or watch YouTube videos to become familiar with new skills.

The Florida Society of Ophthalmic Administrators set up a series of Zoom meetings to share information on the rapidly changing legal landscape and other matters to navigate the current issues and how to ramp up again (see p. 7). The New England Society of Ophthalmic Administrators has also hosted a webinar. You, too, can take the lead and establish a similar group in your area, whether it be for clinical, billing, or management issues.

When returning to work, be positive; your patients will be as frightened as you are. Be cautious; maintain the infection prevention guidelines you have practiced so acutely. Show compassion; every person in your office shares your feelings and may manifest them differently.

The tag line “we are all in this together” has been applied to many situations, but never in a more relevant scenario than now. Stay safe, keep your distance, and wash your hands. OP