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Health Priorities Change in a Time of Crisis


You and your dog are entering a little self-quarantine phase. The university where you teach as a doctoral candidate has suspended face-to-face interaction through the end of the month, which means you will resume doing candidacy writing, teaching aural skills and music theory, and taking classes virtually, while also taking extra care to not get sick yourself on Monday when you will be back from spring break. The rest of this week will be spent trying to prepare for that with some actual break squeezed in if possible.
That whole life and death spleen problem of yours from eight years ago has some very significant implications for you. It turns out having autoimmune diseases, removing your spleen, and having asthma are not super great for you in a pandemic. You already take a penicillin daily to help your weak immune system fight the normal day-to-day things, and have done so since 2013.

And while it is much more comforting to think that this whole Coronavirus thing is being blown out of proportion and you do not really need to worry, there are immunocompromised people like you who are terrified. Not just for your health, but for the possible ramifications of being hospitalized for a while, all the ways it could effect your job and academic progress, and finances.

In fact, at a time when the entire country seems to be shutting down, it is important to note that there are still many plans going on as scheduled. From the over 90,000 women annually have breast reductions to those who are looking at breast reconstruction after cancer, there are many people who are looking at both necessary procedures and cosmetic procedures. As the nation deals with the realities of the last few days, it is important to note that today’s doctors are going to face many more decisions than they would have a month ago, and so will their patients. Elective surgeries like breast reconstruction, in some cases, may be rescheduled as health care facilities prioritize the work that has to be done.

Many Professions Are in Unchartered Territories

Students need to understand that instructors are in a tough spot, particularly when it is a difficult class to teach without the face-to-face component, and especially when it is a difficult unit in the class in the first place. It will be important for professors to prepare and for students to be patient with instructors, some of whom are trying to finish a dissertation, some of whom struggle to understand the complexities of technology well enough to feel comfortable online, and many of whom have a billion new concerns regarding their kids, their spouses, and their extended families to manage on top of it all.

Doctors, too, are facing a new reality. And whether they are doctor of physical therapy who offer long term services to clients or they are doctors of plastic surgery who offer breast reconstruction and other elective services, there are going to be challenging decisions that need to be made.
The fact, for example, that breast reconstruction using saline breast implants have a 1% to 2% rupture rate may seem less important in a time when there are differing opinions about the percentage of patients who will fall victim to this pandemic virus.

College instructors, of course, need to remember that students are not all the stereotypical young adult with a home to go to, the means to do so, internet availability or limitless data, a laptop or something other than a smartphone to access, and the ability to stay home from a job. Some students have family members out of state that they need to worry about, phone bills they cannot pay if they use too much data and have no work or internet, difficulty processing the scary reality of a virus sweeping around. And now they are having to figure out how to learn material through a different medium, in a variety of classes, from instructors with a variety of virtual instruction skills.
At the end of the day, whether you are popular for the opinion or not, health, both mental and physical, should be the priority. As the nation adjusts to a new reality, it is essential patients realize that some plastic surgeon procedures may be delayed.

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