Sudave Mendiratta, MD FACEP
President, Tennessee Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians
Chair and Chief, Emergency Medicine, UT/Erlanger
On behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, I would like to offer my deepest gratitude to our members for their service to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent severe weather events. We have bravely faced the challenges of an unfamiliar virus and consistently provided high-quality care across the state in a dynamic environment, and you are to be commended for your ongoing work. The ACEP website has curated a number of high-quality resources regarding all aspects of COVID, and it is updated on a daily basis. Please take a moment to visit the site as it provides unbiased information for physicians and patients.
The Tennessee Chapter has been engaged in the COVID-19 response across our state with members organizing community responses, managing PPE distribution, rewriting hospital protocols, providing telehealth visits, engaging legislators, and authoring scientific literature. Despite our efforts, we must continue to work together to ensure our patients have ongoing access to emergency care.
Although the supply chain is reported to be improving, PPE shortages still exist in some communities. Our legislators are particularly aware of this issue, but if you are having difficulty accessing PPE at your facility, please contact our chapter leaders so we can help identify opportunities to provide adequate PPE. We are committed to a safe workplace for all of our members.
Across the nation, ED volumes have decreased, and Tennessee is also part of this trend. As a result, we have seen reimbursement decrease and additional financial stressors have been placed on all of us. ACEP is actively engaged at the federal level to provide feedback to ensure that our practice is sustainable. In Tennessee, the impact on our rural hospitals may endanger an already fragile healthcare safety net for some of our most vulnerable residents. We must be consistent in our message to patients – as symptoms such as chest pain, abdominal pain, or neurologic debility can represent a time-sensitive emergent condition. We must reinforce in our communities that the ED is a safe place to receive healthcare. Our Chapter will continue to advocate for rural healthcare and fair reimbursement for the critical work that you do each day.
Long hours, reduced compensation, social distancing, and the fear of illness add to our stress levels and can contribute to burnout and even suicide. ACEP is committed to physician wellness and has a multitude of resources available online to support mental health, and I personally challenge you to engage in one wellness activity and share it with your colleagues. No one is alone during this pandemic, and we are here to support each other.
Although we face continuing uncertainty, I am optimistic that COVID-19 will serve as a catalyst for positive change in healthcare. I appreciate all of you, and I am honored to be a member of TCEP.
We will get through this together.