Spring is in the air. As I reflect on the past year, what a change. I don’t think any of us will forget the stay at home orders, the empty streets, highways and hospitals that March of 2020 brought to our world. What a difference a year makes. Even as this month marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. It was announced Feb. 29, 2020, at a Kirkland, WA, nursing home.
The ensuing healthcare chaos has been unlike anything experienced by anyone currently living. The numbers, as of Sunday, are staggering: 2.5 million dead and 114 million infected worldwide — including 512,000 dead and 25.6 million infected in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracking site.
The work and dedication on the vaccines have been nothing less than superb. Our colleagues in vaccination research outdid themselves with multiple vaccines at 90% efficacy. I am very proud of Oklahoma it was all hands on deck and it is now rare to find a patient who has not been vaccinated in my clinic. Until our recent ice and snow storms, we have been in the top 10 of states for percentage vaccinated. This is a real tribute to the can-do nature of Oklahomans, many of whom are volunteers. We truly should be proud of ourselves, but need to continue until there are no eligible waiting recipients.
Spring is also Doctor of the Day and April is TCMS’s month for coverage of Doctor of the Day. For those who have not participated, it is a short time commitment by signing up for one day, typically Monday to Thursday all day or in the afternoon till 4 pm. As the Doctor of the Day, you are the designated physician who covers the Oklahoma State Legislature. Any specialty can participate. Your Senator and Representative will have been contacted regarding your participation and will introduce you in their respective chambers during the opening of that day’s session.
The First Aid Station is provided as a service to the Legislature and staff. Only primary level care is provided. The station has basic office examination supplies (i.e. ophthalmoscope; otoscope; BP cuff; tongue depressors; band-aides; etc.). Only over the counter medications are supplied (such as aspirin; Tylenol; URI meds; antacids; etc.). Prescription pads are not provided.
We also have a request that medical students from OU and OSU in Tulsa can travel with and shadow the Doctor of the Day. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to interact, mentor, and introduce the activities of our County and State organizations.
The Spring also brings legislation that we need to support or outline our reasons to not support including Scope of Practice, Insurance, Pain Management/Opioids clarifications, Public Health, Telehealth, and Women and Children’s Health.
I implore each of you to review our legislative issues. OSMA and TCMS work tirelessly in the background to support our ability to practice medicine and advocate for our patients. The pressure and burdens on physicians are greater than I have ever witnessed. We are stronger together and now is the time to speak with a unified voice that our patients deserve the best trained physicians who without question have the patient’s best interests as their primary goal.
Diane M. Heaton, M.D.