President's Update on COVID-19

by Rajneet Lamba, MD. President of King County Medical Society
Greetings esteemed King County Medical Society colleagues.  I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your current and ongoing service to your communities.  KCMS has had a focus on the promotion of public health for over 130 years.  King County physicians currently find ourselves front and center on global discussions regarding the management of a novel pandemic disease.
I am extremely grateful for the many experts and physician leaders that we are able to count as members of our organization. I am so fortunate to have a connection through this Society to all of you as we rapidly assimilate new information on COVID-19 and work to protect those here in King County and beyond.  

Please enjoy the following glimpses into the thoughts and efforts of our KCMS members and continue to access trusted public health resources for your families and patients including websites for the CDC, Washington DOH, Public Health – Seattle and King County.  Please write us with your thoughts on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its place among pandemics of the last 100 years at 
Members in the News: The Impact of COVID-19
by Nancy L. Belcher, Ph.D., MPA. CEO, King County Medical Society

While we understand that you are all working overtime to assist patients dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and we THANK YOU for your endless hours of care, we wanted to share with you a few of our member King County Medical Society physicians that are in the news. 
Your staff at King County Medical Society is complying with the guidelines for workplace staffing. While we may need to start teleworking, we will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available. 
A few hours ago the New York Times released an article, The New Normal. The NYT reporter interviewed medical society members Dr. Francis Riedo, Dr. Jeff Tomlin and Dr. Ettore Palazzo. That full NYT article can be found below.

As the article details, their hospital had not had any coronavirus patients, but Dr. Riedo, the medical director for infectious disease, tested two pneumonia patients.  He figured it was probably a one-in-a-million possibility. “I felt like I was dropping a line into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and thinking maybe I’ll come up with something,” Dr. Riedo said. The tests came back positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Tomlin, the hospital’s chief executive shared that with those results, “I think everybody knew that our work lives were going to be dramatically changed, as well as a lot of our lives in general”. 

With the positive diagnosis, the focus was on identifying all workers who had been in contact with the first two pneumonia patients. “The number initially was pretty staggering just for those two,” Dr. Riedo said of the number of patients. “When we realized we had eight or nine or 10, you realize that you’re now casting a net that if you sent everybody home, you would not have an operational hospital.”

Before the virus, the hospital had only about 15 negative-airflow rooms, they now have made space for 58 patients in such rooms. “We know what we have now,” said Dr. Ettore Palazzo, chief medical and quality officer. “We want to project for what potentially could come. And so we continue to work with them on finding areas that can be converted.”
New York Times Story
Of course, Dr. Jeff Duchin is all over the news as the Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. Most recently Dr. Duchin was quoted in CNBC at a press conference with Governor Inslee (below), “The number of cases doubles every several days and we’ve had multiple instances of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities where vulnerable persons reside. We expect a large-scale outbreak in weeks and this will be a very difficult time”.

While Governor Inslee is banning gatherings of more than 250 people in several counties across the state, Dr. Duchin issued an order prohibiting events with fewer than 250 people unless the organizers “can take steps to minimize the risk to participants.” He added that the order is not intended for retail establishments or family events. “Regardless of what we do the health-care system will be very stressed,” Duchin said. “This outbreak will go on for weeks and likely for months.”
Dr. Duchin's Latest COVID-19 News
Dr. Baumgaertel
Additionally, member physician Dr. Susan J. Baumgaertel was interviewed for the Washington Post at the very beginning of the outbreak. Dr. Baumgaertel described seeing a mother last Wednesday who was worried because she had attended a basketball game before her child’s school closed early for spring break. “I just had to calm her down,” said Baumgaertel, who tried to reassure the patient.
Dr. Baumgaertel in the WA Post

Solo practitioner and former KCMS Board President, Dr. Teresa Girolami has been on KING5 News television regularly. You can find the various segments, "Facts Not Fear" below.

Dr. Teresa Girolami - Facts Not Fear KING5
Please consider using the members of Washington State Telehealth response to CoVID19 Task Force (WA-TH-CoV19) as a resource. Brian Marcus, a senior pediatric resident at Seattle Children’s is working with Mary King, Director of PICU at Harborview and a member of WRAP-EM to provide this service. Given the CDC recommendations to ‘stay at home’ many are concerned that the ‘worried well’ may not access primary care appropriately and then later present to and overwhelm emergency care. Their goal is to provide support for the rapid initiation of telehealth across primary care offices in Washington.

Please email Dr. Marcus with any questions or concerns. They will respond to any concerns in real-time. Their goal is for you to have telehealth available for your patients today in your clinic.

Brian Marcus, MD 
Project Lead – WA-TH-CoVID19
Pediatric Resident, University of Washington & Seattle Children’s Hospital

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