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BulletinNovDec2017

President’s Message Hurricane Irma - In Their Own Words Fred Bearison, MD Drfredb1@gmail.com By the time this article is published, the hurricane season will be over. Al-though the Tampa Bay area was spared from a major Category 3 storm, or higher, Irma did take a toll on all of us. In speaking with my family, friends, other doctors and office staff, I found it quite interesting how it affected them in different ways; some more than oth-ers. During lunch hour, a few days af-ter the storm, I overheard some of my staff speaking about their “hurricane experiences.” I thought it would be interesting to share with you their thoughts about what they experienced. They were kind enough to put it in writing, here they are, in their own words: Have you ever wondered where the news industry gets their figures on how much a hurricane cost? The news outlets throw out figures about how much it costs to rebuild after all the dam-age is done; but they fail to give an accurate cost. I know it costs more than just money for a medical practice and its patients. Of course, there are monetary costs, such as lost revenue from pa-tients cancelling and/or missing their appointments, the loss of revenue from patients calling and asking for prescription refills instead of making appointments. But there are other concerns like the anxiety patients and staff feel with the loss of power, telephone and internet service. These are just some of the issues I dealt with, with Hurricane Irma. With all the hype the media placed on preparing for Hurri-cane Irma, more than a week prior to it hitting the state of Flor-ida, people began to panic. That panic resulted in them prepar-ing by purchasing food, gas, and supplies, however, they did not prepare for their medical needs in the event of a catastrophe. With Florida in the direct path of the hurricane, things started getting interesting with people deciding to leave the state result-ing in many cancelled and/or rescheduled appointments, and people not showing up for their appointment. Then there are the patients who wait until the last minute to call and ask for refills on prescriptions because they are completely out. Hurricane Irma came through and wiped out power to a ma-jority of the state including our practice. Our office manager made phone calls to our employees to tell them we could not open because of no electricity. Shortly thereafter, our power did return and the decision was made to open and accommodate our patients but with a skeleton crew, even with no phone and no internet. However, with no phone service patients could not call for or cancel appointments. Some did show up for their scheduled appointment but most did not because they tried to call to see if we were open but could not reach us. But amazingly our cell phones worked! For the patients who did show up or the ones who just walked in hoping to get an appointment they got to watch us go back in time to the old fashioned way, paper! Going to EHR has many benefits but not when one is without internet service. In essence, one has to do their job twice; the first time physically writing all the information regarding patients’ history, diagno-sis, etc. and then one must do it again at a later time and enter all the information in EHR. The luxury of technology. Lastly, there is the physical cost of Hurricane Irma. Dealing with no power, no internet, and no phones can be quite stressful for staff and patients. We get how anxious and nervous patients and staff get when all one hears for more than a week is how bad things may get and how one must be prepared for a disas-ter. We care about our patients immensely and show up at work even though scheduled patients are not showing up or cancel-ling their appointments. Our patients get emergency refills even when they run out at the last minute. With the restoration of the phone system appointments are easier to get and with inter-net service up and running the office doesn’t have to do double work. For now, things have settled down...until next year’s hur-ricane season! 2018 HCMA Membership Dues are due January 1, 2018. Call the HCMA office for more information: 813.253.0471 6 HCMA BULLETIN, Vol 63, No. 4 – November/December 2017


BulletinNovDec2017
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