*The asterisk has never been so understated in my communications as it is right now. Never before- not in my life, have I felt so unsure about planning for the future. And never before has anything so affected my life as a doctor and business owner as this invisible, misunderstood, clever little virus has. My story is anything but unique. How has this affected you? All this uncertainty is so unsettling but something’s giving, right? All this negativity is slowly becoming replaced with glimmers of optimism expressed by news outlets and scientists locally, nationally, and even globally about the progression of the coronavirus pandemic.
We do know that the doubling rate is prolonging. We are not saturating the resources at the rate we thought we would. I do not want to, under any circumstances, underestimate or undermine the severity and seriousness of this disease and the impact it has and will continue to have on our lives. However, as I mentioned since day 1, it is just as important to weigh the cons and pros of moving forward with our lives. This email is not a promise, but a glimmer of hope, that we may resume patient care sooner than some early models predicted.
I am certain I was one of the first plastic surgeons to close my doors and adamantly dismiss the possibility of nonessential services such as injectables, IV hydration, cosmetic surgery, and even elective reconstructive surgeries. This was not an easy decision, but I was- and will continue to be- adamant about ensuring patient safety. Even if it means driving my business into the ground. It has been agonizing over the past several weeks to call patients and reschedule you, only to reschedule you again. And again. Watching the news, learning nothing new, refresh, refresh, waiting for answers, nothing, and so forth.
The Zelken Institute is cleaner, smoother, safer, and better than ever before. This unprecedented protected time has given my staff the opportunity we needed to rebuild our practice, streamline processes, reorganize the electronic medical record system, embrace telehealth and even remodel the physical plant. Still, nothing beats taking care of patients directly. I miss it. My staff misses it. And we want it back as soon as it is safe. Of course, now is surely too soon. The encouraging trends should motivate us to keep going, keep washing our hands, avoid unnecessary journeys, and to distance ourselves. If we retreat now, we’re in for a second wave for sure. We are winning this war- don’t stop now.
I have been studying this disease, its proposed remedies, various clinical trials, hospital communications, therapies, and other countries patterns very closely. Hoag and OC Global administration is painting a rosy picture of the near future. Based on all the data available to me, I envision May 1, 2020 as the date that I will formally reopen business to the public.* This *, again, is filled with so many conditions, ethical considerations, and so many other asterisks within. On one hand, May 1 is a random day, but I chose it because it is a logical divider between two months and occurs at a time- about 2 weeks from now- when the pros of carrying on might somehow exceed the cons.
I will not run this business the same way as I did when I closed the doors in early March. Before we ceased nonessential care, we made special changes in our practice like wearing masks, screening patients, and minimizing unnecessary services and procedures. I will continue and enhance these early changes when I reopen. We remodeled the physical plant by installing porcelain floors that can be easily sanitized in a way that the weathered concrete floors could not. Hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere. Sani-cloth dispensers everywhere. Postoperative followup is restricted to necessary patients. I no longer hug. I have not seen any patients without an N95 mask in a month. This is my new normal, and my way of making your experience brighter, safer, better.
The Zelken Institute’s iconic weathered concrete floors were porous and were not easy to sanitize. The new porcelain floors are much easier to clean, brighter, and safer.