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From the Frontlines: Supporting Each Other Through a Crisis

At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we started From the Frontlines, a nationwide gathering of clinicians to discuss topics at the forefront of medicine, to facilitate connections between clinicians across the country. Every day, we learn more about the Novel-Coronavirus (COVID-19) and confront new challenges associated with the virus. The voices of our clinicians and clinical support teams have never been more valuable. Clinicians are on the frontlines of our national response to this virus — they are called upon to develop immediate strategies and solutions to keep our communities and colleagues healthy and safe.

In a recent installment, we brought together four women leaders to discuss their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. What we heard was an overwhelming appreciation of their colleagues and the Envision network.

Janaé Dark, MD, MPH, MBA, FACEP, Associate Regional and Associate Site Medical Director, Emergency Medicine — Houston, Texas

On the Importance of Supporting Each Other: Since Envision works with several hospitals in the Houston area, we function as a beehive — meeting regularly and talking constantly. When COVID-19 hit us in the spring, we were able to shuffle people around and keep people working. Other groups did not have as much flexibility.

We are all in this together, and we are all learning how to cope with the stress and challenges. My team has seen me struggle as I try to homeschool my five-year-old while both my husband and I are working. COVID-19 has affected everyone differently, but it’s good to come together and discuss those challenges so we can continue to support each other as a team.

“One of the biggest themes I heard from other Envision clinicians was the need to take care of yourself. I made sure my team and I really took that to heart and made our health and wellness a priority in addition to patient care.”

Bridget Ruscito, MD, Anesthesiology Chair — Princeton, New Jersey

On Having the Resources Necessary to Fight the Virus: We were less than an hour away from the northeast epicenter in New York City. We didn't know what to expect, and when cases started exploding, we were worried. The first day, we had to intubate eight patients, and our intensive care unit quickly reached capacity. We realized we needed a plan to accommodate more patients and increase the number of critical care providers. Envision was a huge help in formulating and executing the strategies we needed.

For one, having the supply of personal protective equipment as a resource and Envision leaders checking in frequently was appreciated. The clinical discussion boards, which are a protected space to share accurate clinical information and best practices, were a huge help because the information was changing so rapidly, and depending on your source, you weren't sure which information to believe. Having the additional input from other Envision clinicians and hearing what they've been doing and what’s been working for them was incredibly helpful.

“We were getting daily emails asking whether we had enough resources and what the organization could do to help us secure more. As we were working in an area of the country that was greatly impacted by the virus, it was important for us to have both the PPE on-site and the assurance that we would be able to find more.”

Bao T. Doan, MD, MBA, Medical Director and Interventional Radiologist — West Palm Beach, Florida

On Putting Patients First: I worked in a small private group before, and we were more vulnerable to any health crisis or economic fluctuation. Being part of a much larger group like Envision, I felt we have a greater ability to respond to the pandemic given our economies of scale, numbers of FTEs and leverage with health systems. Instead of worrying about billing and payroll, my team was able to focus on what matters most – doing our clinical work and caring for our patients.

“Envision was a huge help in transitioning my team to working from home so that we could prioritize taking care of our patients and ourselves. During this crisis, it is critical we stay healthy and informed and keep in contact with each other as clinicians.”

Sara Champoux, DHSc, PA-C, Vice President, Advanced Practice Provider Services — Phoenix, Arizona

On Protecting Our Clinicians: Like Dr. Dark and Dr. Doan, we also felt protected from the economic realities because we are a national medical group. Some independent groups had more significant challenges to navigate. Despite patient volumes being down almost 50 percent, we were able to make hour reductions that were often closer to 20 percent. If we were a smaller practice, we would not have been able to weather this quite as well. Just knowing the group was there for us was really reassuring.

In addition, it was great having access to educational resources. The wellness modules produced by Stefanie Simmons, MD, Vice President of Patient and Clinician Engagement, have been fantastic. I've had a lot of people say they felt supported emotionally as well.

“What we’ve gone through has renewed a sense of pride in all of us as healthcare workers. The outpouring of community support has been a great reminder that our work is important and that we are all in this together.”

From the Frontlines is a biweekly teleconference panel of multispecialty clinicians nationwide who speak from the frontlines and discuss the evolving best practices as they address the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit www.evhc.net/coronavirus to watch past webinars and learn more about our work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a leading national medical group, Envision brings clinicians together to offer transformative patient care and hospital practices. Our strength is in the shared expertise of thousands of clinicians across the country, each with a unique story and thoughtful understanding of medical practices.