In March 2020, with the hospital filling up to capacity, it became apparent that there was a need for telehealth and remote care for patients with COVID-19 who didn’t require hospitalization. Along with a group of other primary care physicians, nurses, and administrators from the NYP Medical Group Queens, I supported the rapid development of a telemedicine program for patients with COVID-19. The medical group team created a phone number for patients within our community to call to connect them with physicians and provide them with medical care at home. This number spread rapidly to different communities of New York by word of mouth as we became a critical source for medical care.
As part of remote treatment, patients received continuous nurse monitoring and physician management until they were stabilized. Our team coordinated services with local vendors and pharmacies to help those patients most in need of medication and oxygen support. From March 1 through July 5, our team had nearly 19,000 encounters via telehealth.
Clinically, the most meaningful experiences that I have had this past year were when I heard the daily improvement in the breathing of patients whom many times I could not see, only hear through the telephone. One patient in particular stays in my mind. This patient required inpatient care, but declined hospitalization due to fear. However, with daily assessments, in conjunction with our team of nurses, the patient was able to recover safely at home.
After one year of living through the worst health crisis of our generation, in what turned out to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Queens, New York, I have taken away some of the most important lessons of my life. Despite fear, terrible loss of life, and constant unknowns, there will always be hope, resilience, and the strength of community. Nothing could have prepared me, my colleagues, and my family for what we have experienced this past year, but with strong teamwork, dedication, and great sacrifice from all, we were able to provide the highest quality care for our community.
— Dr. Demetrios Paidoussis, primary care physician, NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens