The medical community has been hit incredibly hard by COVID-19, and most physicians are no exception. Physicians working in hospitals are struggling with patient overflow, supply shortages, and the ever-present risk of illness. In addition, many are facing furloughs and pay cuts due to significant drops in revenue. The decrease and/or halt in elective procedures and non-emergency medicine has also proven difficult for physicians in private practice. Despite these challenges, the practice of wound care has remained fairly constant.
Although wound care physicians have faced additional restrictions due to COVID-19, they are still experiencing steady patient levels and a high degree of clinical satisfaction. Even during unprecedented times such as these, there are – and always will be – wounds to heal.
“I think that practicing with Vohra, we will never run out of patients. We will never have inadequate business to keep us gainfully employed.”
- Dr. Janet Mackenzie, Vohra Wound Physicians
Continue reading to learn more about how COVID-19 has affected Vohra physicians, and how they are navigating the ensuing second wave of the virus.
How has COVID impacted healthcare professionals?
Although the medical field is typically resilient in the face of social and economic challenges, it has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, healthcare workers have faced long shifts, PPE shortages, and infection risk. Hospitals have suffered significant drops in revenue, leading to layoffs and furloughs – further increasing the workload for the remaining care workers.
According to the Labor of Bureau Statistics, job losses in the healthcare sector have exceeded 1 million in 2020. This is second only to the restaurant industry. The healthcare professionals who remain employed face challenges such as patient overload, pay cuts, and decreased hours. Physicians in private practice are also facing loss of business and new restrictions. As these challenges have stressed much of the medical community, wound physicians report relative stability.
Practicing wound care during a pandemic
As many aspects of healthcare have undergone enormous disruption due to COVID-19, the need for wound care has held steady. Vohra physicians have experienced some modifications to rounding procedures and patient levels, but their practices are largely unaffected and their clinical satisfaction has not faltered.
Vohra physicians typically round in several facilities each day and perform in-person examinations, treatments, and procedures, so, the biggest change that they have faced during the pandemic has been restrictions to in-person care.
Fortunately, Vohra’s telemedicine program, Vohra@Home, and proprietary EMR have enabled our physicians to provide continuity of care for their patients, despite shifting regulations. During COVID surges and facility lockdowns, Vohra physicians have largely continued to provide wound care to skilled nursing facility residents and to assess new admissions.
As the threat of COVID-19 becomes better understood, facilities have developed rigorous, effective safety policies that have allowed in-person rounds to resume.
“I have been in nursing homes all week, 17 buildings, and only one of them has active COVID, so that’s the only one where I'm treating patients via telemedicine.”
- Dr. David Violette, Vohra Wound Physicians
Throughout the pandemic, Vohra physicians have continued to provide unparalleled care – and in some instances, have been the only consistent providers for their patients.
“One of the things that happened with COVID is that facilities block out everyone other than the essential workers, so there aren’t that many physicians in the facility. A lot of the consulting doctors aren’t coming in and a lot of the patients aren’t going out for appointments for infection control purposes. This means that if a problem comes up with somebody who might normally be following up with their surgeon, I’m the one who gets to take care of that, because I’m there,” said Dr. Janet Mackenzie, MD, a trained plastic surgeon who transitioned to Vohra.
At the onset of the pandemic, many Vohra physicians experienced temporary dips in patient load as facilities implemented rigorous anti-infection policies.
“There were about two months that I pretty much was exclusively telemedicine,” said Dr. Violette.
However, as COVID response measures have become clearer and facilities have implemented comprehensive testing and infection control procedures, Vohra physician patient loads have stabilized and are returning to normal.
At the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Mackenzie reported a drop in patient load of about 80%. Fortunately, she is now reporting a return to pre-COVID interaction numbers. She also notes that wound physicians are starting to see patients who are experiencing the long-term effects of COVID-19. For example, many former COVID patients have developed wounds as a result of extended hospitalizations.
“I think that practicing with Vohra, we will never run out of patients. We will never have inadequate business to keep us gainfully employed,” Dr. Mackenzie said.
For Dr. Hiral Gallimore, MD, increased implementation of telemedicine has expanded her reach in the long-term care community, increasing her patient interactions by roughly 30% during the pandemic.
“That’s where Vohra succeeds – we work so hard to build relationships with our entities. We realize that long term care is a small community in every single city and state and we try to become part of that,” Dr. Gallimore said.
Currently, Dr. Gallimore sees approximately 50% of her patients via Vohra@Home, and the other 50% in person.
“We have healed so many wounds and it has been remarkable. Wounds that had stalled or were hard to heal are just gone.”
- Dr. Hiral Gallimore, Vohra Wound Physicians
Throughout the pandemic, Vohra physicians have maintained flexible, customizable schedules and have been able to enjoy adequate free time.
“While there’s no routine anymore, I still have complete control over my week,” Dr. Gallimore said. “It’s been a huge shift, but still just as rewarding.”
Particularly during these unprecedented times, Vohra physicians agree that being able to provide advanced wound care to underserved patients is extremely satisfying and indicative of the continued growth of the wound care specialty.
“The advances that we’ve made with our ability to bring wound care to people have been huge, and those are not going away,” Dr. Gallimore said. “What we have done with telemedicine and in partnering with home health and hospice groups allows us to bring wound care to more and more people, which means that we are a growing field and a growing company. The benchmark of sustainability is if you can keep growing, even in the hard times. And we have.”
“The benchmark of sustainability is if you can keep growing, even in the hard times. And we have.”
- Dr. Hiral Gallimore, Vohra Wound Physicians
Transitioning to wound care
As many physicians face unmanageable schedules or job loss, wound care has remained a fairly constant practice. For physicians seeking a new or more specialized path in the medical field, wound care is an attractive option for a career shift.
“I would definitely recommend Vohra if you’re looking for a career shift,” Dr. Gallimore said, “We’ve actually had a lot of new physicians that have come into Vohra during the pandemic because of decreased hours and furloughs and the restrictions on elective surgeries.”
Vohra physicians have experienced COVID-related challenges, but our corporate support and ongoing innovation has ensured that our physicians are employed, clinically satisfied, and continuing to do what we do best – heal wounds.