We have come through so much in such a short time. A year ago our pandemic crisis began abruptly, and has carried on for a long twelve months. With the vaccines now on the scene we are inching closer to normalcy, however there are a few mountains we must still scale.
At the present time, family physicians and other primary care physicians are waiting desperately to be included in the vaccine rollout. While the state has focused on allotments distributed to hospitals and large mass vaccination sites, our more skeptical and our many disadvantaged patients are hoping to come to their familiar family medicine practices to be educated and reassured about the safety and side effects of these vaccines. In the years to come COVID-19 prevention and management will be mostly a primary care issue, whether we continue with yearly booster shots for the latest coronavirus variants, or manage the occasional outbreaks and hospitalizations much like we do now with influenza. While we do need the assembly-line vaccination sites for those who already know they want it and can access the appointments, to achieve herd immunity as well as equity of access we will also need the trusted PCP offices to decrease vaccine hesitancy and better accommodate our patients with disabilities, transportation problems, language barriers, and issues with internet access. We at the MassAFP have been working with our colleagues in the Mass Chapters of AAP and ACP, and MMS to advocate for vaccine access for primary care practices, especially as we go forward in the coming phases.
The road ahead will continue to challenge us, clinically and economically. To that purpose I invite anyone who is interested to join our Independent Family Physician Member Interest Group to help each other navigate pandemic issues including vaccine distribution. More info about the MIG will be available, along with excellent CME opportunities, at our virtual Annual Meeting and Spring Refresher on March 26-27. Many thanks to our MAFP staff who have invested much thought and effort into making this a high quality and professional experience for us!
We also welcome you to join us for an exciting virtual Advocacy Day on Thurs April 8 at 12:30 pm:
In observance of Black History Month, until March 17, AAFP members have free access to the award-winning documentary “Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Movement,” about how civil rights activists and health professionals leveraged Medicare to open opportunities for minorities: http://ow.ly/44uv50DH4oJ
We are seeing an explosion of depression, anxiety, and stress in our patients in daily practice, and the resources for support are not always accessible in an easy or timely manner. The AAFP will host a new series on managing behavioral health in your practice, starting with this live panel on Monday March 1 at 6 pm EST https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWYzRfKFyhk. Others will follow in the coming weeks.
Lastly, I would like to encourage self-care and support as much as possible in these difficult times, by sharing this tool to soothe your stress, called RAIN meditation: https://www.mindful.org/tara-brach-rain-mindfulness-practice/
Stay safe and stay optimistic,
Michele C. Parker, MD
I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do." -Jana Stanfield