RetinaLink continues its Staying the Course series with Alan J. Franklin, MD, PhD. Dr. Franklin is in private practice in Mobile, AL. He operates at Mobile Infirmary Medical Center.
The state of Alabama’s “Shelter in Place” order took effect two weeks ago. Prior to that Birmingham, Alabama was the first city to issue the order approximately one month ago in the state or Alabama. Mobile, Alabama followed accordingly two weeks later.
RetinaLink (RL): Are you seeing patients in your clinic? If so, please outline your new normal with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Alan J. Franklin, MD, PhD (AJF): Yes, I’m seeing patients and operating based on the ASRS guidance we received regarding emergent and urgent care. Once I received the e-mail from the ASRS, I forwarded the their communication link to our OR Committee.
My clinical volume is down 60 to 65% and my surgical volume has decreased approximately 50%. My patient population has a significant number of diabetics, so my OR cases are limited to sick eye diabetic eyes, trauma, and retinal detachments.
RL: Please discuss your protocol for your staff and patients in your practice.
AJF: Starting on Tuesday, March 17, our practice started screening all patients. Our staff started taking each patient’s temperature, and doing a review of systems for respiratory illness. After each patient encounter, we wipe everything down, and wash our hands rigorously. We have also stopped seeing patients at my satellite clinics.
When in the clinic, I wear gloves, mask and I’ve taken special precautions at the slit lamp, and do many more exams with the indirect ophthalmoscope.
I had a patient early on as the COVID-19 was starting to emerge who made very odd and throaty sounds. It was odd enough to concern me. As retina specialists, we’ve always had close contact with our patients especially when they are at the slit lamp and during anti-VEGF injections.
We are using so many precautions now and quite frankly, who knows what communicable diseases we’ve been exposed to for years. This is certainly something to think about as we emerge from COVID-19 and how we change our armamentarium to have additional protection in the future.
RL: What do you do at the end of your busy day?
AJF: I enjoy cooking, family dinners, and time with my kids is always special. Working out is important to me. I went to a personal trainer once a week, and did 3-4 spinning classes per week. Therefore, I set up a home gym and invested in Echelon’s new FITNATION bike. For weight training, I have 30 lb. dumbells, kettlebells, slam ball and big mat for core workouts.
Dr. Alan Franklin can be reached via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org