Amending Approaches to Patient Care: A Message from Drs. Pinson, Sternberg and Raiford

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in our region, more stringent measures become necessary to lessen the risk for spread of this infection. Recognizing that we are the sole resource for a large segment of patients in our community with complex conditions, and also see many patients for fairly routine evaluations and follow up care, we must weigh carefully the benefits to patients of providing care against the risk of their becoming infected or spreading the infection to others by presenting to VUMC for ambulatory healthcare that can be conducted remotely through telehealth or postponed altogether.

This rapidly changing situation dictates that we amend our approaches to patient care as the circumstances evolve Effective today, we ask that all clinicians with ambulatory practices begin reviewing their upcoming clinic and elective procedure schedules.   For ambulatory clinic patients, we ask you to work with your clinic and departmental management and the access center to reschedule them as telehealth visits as soon as reasonably possible as a secure means to care for patients that are appropriate for this method.  Already, a number of our specialties are embracing this effort.

For those that are not appropriate or cannot participate in telehealth visits for any reason, yet do not require care within the next 2 months, we ask that you reschedule in person visits a minimum of 2 months from now, when we are hopeful that the pandemic will have started to abate in this region. 

For clinicians with patients scheduled for elective procedures, we ask that you similarly revisit your schedules and make a determination as to whether each individual patient’s clinical condition necessitates their coming to VUMC for their procedure as scheduled, or whether they could be rescheduled with a minimum two (2) month delay without risking detrimental health impact.

If you are uncertain about the relative urgency of an upcoming appointment and whether postponing care will have a detrimental effect on a patient, we encourage contacting the patient by MHAV or phone call to inform your determination. We recognize that this may be a large burden for those clinicians with large ambulatory practices.

In furtherance of infection control, and in addition to the revised Visitor Policy implemented last week, we are instituting additional steps to increase social distancing in our Medical Center facilities. In accordance with guidelines from the CDC and our Department of Infection Prevention experts we have been reconfiguring waiting rooms throughout our facilities to create more distance and have removed all magazines and other disposable materials could be sources of contamination. Where there is adjacent parking at outlying clinics, we are advising patients that they check in by phone, or after they sign in, they can return to their vehicles if they wish and will be notified when clinicians are ready to see them.

Thank you for all you are doing to care for our patients and for one another. We will continue to communicate with you regularly regarding the latest information related to the Medical Center’s response to the COVID pandemic.  

Sincerely,

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer, VUMC

David Raiford, MD, Chief of Clinical Staff, VUMC 

Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, Chief Medical Officer, VUMC