Video Interview: How COVID-19 is changing primary care

When primary care doctor Leigh Simmons sees patients in person now, which is rare, she starts every conversation the same way: “This table is clean. Put all your things on the table. Don’t touch anything. Sit down on the table.” It’s not the welcoming start patients usually receive at their primary care clinic, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. As Simmons says, “It’s the way we have to practice if we want to survive this.”

In an interview with Lown Senior VP Shannon Brownlee, Simmons shared her experiences so far practicing in the pandemic, and what worries her most about COVID-19.

Like most other doctors, Simmons is very concerned with the health and safety of her colleagues working in intensive care and emergency care at this time. However, Simmons is also worried about her patients in primary care who are now afraid to come into the clinic or even call when they have serious, non-COVID-related symptoms. “We have no reason to think, biologically, there would be fewer strokes or heart attacks,” said Simmons. “That means that some things are happening and people are not calling about them.”

“I’m not going to forget what it felt like to deliver the care that you want to.”

Dr. Leigh Simmons

However, there have been a few unexpected silver linings in primary care– easier ability to conduct telehealth visits, and fewer documentation and billing guidelines. “I’m not going to forget what it felt like to deliver the care that you want to,” said Simmons. “At the end of this, we might as well learn some good lessons.”

View the full video above for more questions with Simmons, and a post-interview discussion with Brownlee and Lown President Dr. Vikas Saini.