A Message from MSNJ President, Marc J. Levine, MD 6.1.20
Monday, June 1, 2020
We have come so very far in this time of COVID-19. We have seen hospitals fill with critical care patient needs. We have seen scarcity of resource guidelines created, but fortunately never needed. We have seen our country answer the call to duty by outproducing the need for ventilators. We have seen United States Naval hospital ships sail into ports on both sides of our country. Social distancing has become the norm, but we have remained steadfast and creative in staying connected. Testing is on the rise, and drug treatments and vaccines are moving forward utilizing the best and brightest minds in medicine. Most importantly, we as physicians have not hesitated to treat each and every patient, despite the fact that we are oftentimes putting ourselves in harm’s way.
Last week, I had the honor of testifying before the New Jersey Senate for which I, on behalf of MSNJ, are extremely grateful. Senate President Sweeney invited myself and five others to testify regarding the condition of healthcare in New Jersey, and Deputy Majority Leader Paul A. Sarlo chaired the hearing. I came away from these hearings incredibly impressed with the concern that these civil servants and other state senators had with the health of our profession, as well as the health of New Jersey residents.
For those who did not have the opportunity to see the proceedings or read the transcript, some distinct issues were discussed during this meeting:
- There was a strong emphasis on the importance of opening up healthcare for non-COVID illnesses, acknowledging that there may be negative outcomes if we delay diagnosis and treatment any further.
- We discussed the critical need for affordable PPEs for both physician practices and hospitals as well as the importance of instilling confidence in our patients that they may safely visit their physician or go to the emergency room when needed.
- Additionally, we discussed the tremendous sacrifice and selflessness of our frontline providers, and the unfortunate burn out and post traumatic effects that these individuals may experience. With this recognition comes the tremendous responsibility of creating programs and support for those in need.
- The usefulness of telemedicine was lauded, as it has become a helpful tool for physicians and a secondary option for diagnosis and treatment during these uncertain times. However, it was made abundantly clear that while useful, telemedicine is not a substitution for face-to-face patient assessment and encounters.
- The economic strain on private practices, both large and small, with increased cost to practice in the future is very disconcerting. This issue, with all its complexities, was understood and acknowledged by all – and the idea that many of these practices will not be able to come back and operate without further assistance is becoming an unfortunate, harsh reality with each passing day.
The road to healthcare recovery will not be an easy one, nor will it take place with the “flip of a switch.” But, MSNJ is here to support both our doctors and patients on that journey. I have heard from many physicians who have had their practices modified, incomes drastically adjusted and, in some cases, have been unexpectedly furloughed by large corporate entities, both physician and private equity owned. This disruption in services has greatly impacted and adversely effected the delivery of care in New Jersey, as patients have been guided to seek care in other states. MSNJ will continue to support all physicians across the state, providing guidance, advocacy and assistance when it is needed most.
As a profession, we need to be ready for a possible resurgence of COVID-19. As I stated at the Senate hearings – WE ARE READY. We have responded to this COVID-19 crisis as physicians in a manner that would have made each of our mentors proud. We have worked with both federal and state governments, led by President Trump nationally and on a state level with Governor Murphy. We have built bridges with hospital systems and other healthcare providers. Our supplies of ventilators and PPE for future needs are now in abundance. As professionals, we have not only treated, but have also learned.
We recognize the need to resume now and continue on caring for non-COVID health issues. We are healers and students of medicine for life. WE ARE READY.
BE WELL, BE SAFE and BE PROUD.
Marc J. Levine, MD
President, Medical Society of New Jersey