Describe what you/your faculty/department/program/clinic did that demonstrated that family physicians are leaders in health systems.
University of California, Irvine (UCI) Department of Family Medicine has remained on the front lines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We rapidly transitioned to telehealth patient care, remote teaching and outreach. We worked with health system and community partners to educate the public that our services were available. We exceeded the number of patient visits from before the pandemic, opened drive-through testing and vaccination sites. We ensured our residents and most exposed faculty received prioritization for vaccination. We allowed faculty with higher health risks to work remotely. We redeployed our residents into the hospitals to cover the ICU and recruited community family physicians (recent graduates) to ensure robust clinic coverage.
How did you communicate with health systems leaders during the process?
UCI Health activated Covid-19 surge planning at numerous levels. Within the department, I provided daily and/or as needed updates regarding changes in protocols. Faculty met with residents to ensure their questions were answered. Clinical chairs conducted daily briefings to coordinate surge planning, extending to weekly meetings after plans were set. Chairs met with the CEOs and Dean on a weekly basis to ensure timely communications. We conducted numerous Town Halls to ensure everyone had the information needed to keep themselves safe, encourage peer support, and to care for our patients.
What type of feedback have you received about your efforts?
Patients, trainees, staff and faculty are grateful for department and health system support. Many high risk patients have been in tears as they received the vaccine. Patient satisfaction reports indicate greater levels of satisfaction as compared to pre-pandemic. Neighbors and community members have cheered for and volunteered resources to support health workers.
What type of impact do you think this will have on your health systems leaders’ perception of family medicine?
UCI Family Medicine has been an essential contributor to our health system's response to the pandemic. We have demonstrated our value and resilience.
What type of advice would you give to other family physicians or family medicine faculty about helping health systems leaders see the value of family medicine?
Keep up the great work and don't keep your efforts a secret! While family physicians value humility and team work, we need to continue to share examples of the value of our contributions so that we receive adequate support!