Jul 14, 2022
“Imagine that you are the medical director of a large (>150 bed) nursing home. Two-thirds of the patients in the home now have COVID-19. Seventeen of your patients are dead. The other physicians who previously saw patients in the nursing home are no longer coming to your facility because you have COVID positive patients. You’re short on gowns and facemasks. You’re short on nurses and nurse aids so now you have to help deliver meals.”
This was the opening paragraph that I wrote in March of 2020 when introducing a podcast we did with Dr. Jim Wright, the medical director at Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in suburban Richmond. That was his literally his life during those spring months of 2020 and it scared the hell out of me.
Lucky, Jim and many others like him were willing to come on to our podcast those first several months of the pandemic and share their experiences and lessons learned caring for COVID positive patients and their family members.
On today’s podcast, we look back to those early months of the pandemic and look forward to the future. We invited Jim back with us along with Darrell Owens, DNP, MSN, who is the head of palliative care for the University of Washington’s Northwest campus.
For those who didn't listen to our podcast with Darrell, when most of us were still trying to figure out what COVID was, he created an on call 24/7 palliative care service to have goals of care conversations with elderly patients in the emergency department under investigation for COVID, and also established an admitting inpatient palliative care service at his hospital for patients on exclusively comfort measures. What I loved about this March 2020 podcast was that Darrell pushed us to think differently:
“Expect that it’s not business as usual. Very first thing, you’re going to have to do things differently, so be open to that. Be totally open-minded. Now the old, “We’re not an admitting service or we don’t do that and we don’t do this,” don’t start with what you don’t do. Start with what you can do, what’s your capacity.
So take a walk down memory lane with us and hear from both Darrell and Jim where they think we are going.