Hospital Closed

Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus are doing their best to treat the sick and prevent the virus from spreading. At the same time, the virus has affected doctors, dentists and health centers by limiting how they treat their sick patients and those who need ongoing treatment.

Dr. Gerald Norris has practiced medicine for 36 years. Dr. Beau LeJeune is an ear, nose and throat specialist. Both of these doctors, like doctors everywhere, are trying to adjust their practices in an environment no one has seen before.

“Well, primarily we see a lot of elderly and frail [people]and we have pretty much asked them to stay away from our practice for the time being,” Norris, of Southview Medical Group, said. “On the other hand, you have patients with respiratory issues that could have COVID-19 and in our practice, we have a segregated area that we access them in.”

Both doctors are asking patients to forego regular checkups and exams. When they do see patients, they’re all taking extra precautions.

“So, we’ve had to do a different screening process to try to protect, may not have it from being exposed to patients that do have it,” LeJeune, of ENT Associates of Alabama, said. “Of course, keeping a mindful eye on those who work in our practice as well.”

Norris’s patients often see him with respiratory problems. Symptoms that are normally routine issues in his office might now make him suspicious of COVID-19.

“We have now quicker turnaround on our COVID-19 essays so we can pretty much tell someone within 24 hours if they’re infected or not,” Norris said.

Just like all businesses, physicians employe nurses, medical staff, office workers and other support personnel. When patients are quarantined at home, the business part of the practice suffers.

“We’re in the same boat with all of the other companies that are doing their best to keep the business going and hang onto their employees that are really the face of business and make up the business,” LeJeune said. “And so we’ve had to shut down some of our offices and we’ve had to furlough a good number of our employees in hopes that we can kind of keep things afloat and when all of this passes resume regular activities.”

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