A message from WAO President, Heather Potter, MD
Friday, March 27, 2020
Fellow ophthalmologists in Wisconsin,
This is a time of fear, stress, and anxiety, but also a time of community, empowerment and advancement.
The number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase and as we consider our patients, friends, neighbors, and loved ones, we are concerned about their health. The stress we are feeling is not only this, but the financial impact that this will have on the lives of our staff, on our practices, and globally. Many of us are assuming roles we hadn’t anticipated (stay-at-home parent, elementary school teacher, adolescent counselor) and are feeling out our new roles while maintaining a connection to our practices and patients. The anxiety is palpable when every source is focused on COVID-19, people are routinely out walking with face masks and scarves, and we are conscious of every single touch and every move we make.
I’ve noticed another side to this, though--a side that is much harder to put in numbers. A sense of community and people reaching out to elderly neighbors, a rekindling of distant relationships, and a sense that we must put forth effort to create positive experiences. If you haven’t seen the music that was played by the people in Italy from their apartment windows, it is heartwarming. I’ve also heard of Chalk the Walk initiatives and I continue to see signs, both literal and symbolic, of encouragement and gratitude. The empowerment can be seen in our college students and children discovering a new self-directed way of learning, our staff people assuming leadership roles, and our health care providers and hospitals preparing for the next several months that could bring protective equipment shortages, staffing conundrums, and some incredibly hard ethical decisions. Lastly, I’ve been excited to see things like adoption of TeleMedicine, successful connections during online meetings, and factories creating the protective equipment we need at speeds, amounts, AND costs never even considered.
We are all in this together and we will come out of this exhausted, but more connected than ever.
I would encourage you to use the resources regarding telemedicine, patient triaging, and minimizing chances for exposure on the American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Many subspecialty websites are also posting information to help you through this difficult experience. You can also find additional information on the WAO COVID 19 Resource page.
Peace, strength and health to you and your family during this time.
Heather Potter, MD
President, Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmology