Social distancing leaves some DC-area doctors with quiet practices

Each day brings praise to the heroism of health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight. But for some doctors not on the battlefront, social distancing has left their practices quiet.

Dr. Nicole Renaud, an Arlington, Virginia, ophthalmologist, said she had a full schedule of patients and worked long hours before the pandemic. Now, she sees a few patients a week, mostly through telemedicine.

“I will tell you that I’m not alone. Most of my colleagues are down to just two three patients a week,” she said. “Unfortunately in ophthalmology, it’s heavily dependent on a microscope to help you look into the eye and look at details under very high magnification.”

To ensure her safety and that of her patients, she is only seeing them for emergencies. As a result, her practice’s income has fallen by a stunning 90%.

“It has impacted me severely enough that I was even discussing with my financial adviser whether I should just close up shop all together,” Renaud said. “And we have to do this for the collective good. It is a rough ride. It’s a very rough ride. I don’t think anybody is really spared.”

On Tuesday, relying on an N95 face mask, Renaud reported to her office to examine a patient with an emergency.

She said the precautions doctors take, such as sharply limiting the number of patients seen, are in the interests of both patient and doctor safety and urged everyone to take the necessary steps to remain safe.

“People need to be aware that this is an extremely difficult time for everybody … it’s a rough ride, it’s a very rough ride. I don’t think anybody is really spared,” she said.


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