A message from Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO

 Gary S. Kaplan, MD
Gary S. Kaplan, MD
Chairman and CEO

To Our Community:
As we continue to settle into our new reality of providing health care to our patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our team members maintain their resolve to be innovative in their approaches to serving our patients. 
Dedicated team members are doing amazing work to ensure we can continue to provide care for COVID-19 patients, as well as those with other health care needs. We’ve expanded our ability to provide care virtually, knowing patients want more convenient options for receiving care, especially at this time.
More and more patients are connecting with their care providers via phone, our patient portal, MyVirginiaMason, and video visits. This is allowing patients with chronic conditions or those with other needs who have deferred appointments to receive the care they need to stay healthy and address health challenges. 
Video visits have been particularly successful. Currently, in most cases, we are able to see patients the same day they request an appointment. Providing virtual care is not only a satisfier for our patients, but also for our providers. I’ve heard from some of my colleagues that they’ve missed seeing their patients, and now they can stay connected and get to know them in new ways. Instead of patients coming to our locations for appointments, we have new glimpses into their lives as we conduct appointments with patients in different environments – in their homes or in their offices.
One of our physicians saw a patient via a video visit who was having trouble with her hand. The patient is a cellist who was feeling like her fingers weren’t quite working right. On examining her through video, she was trying to show the doctor what was going on. The doctor asked her to go get the cello and play so the doctor could see what was happening. Immediately, once the patient started playing, the doctor could see her finger movements and recognized that she was having carpal tunnel symptoms. The doctor said it was remarkable to be able to see her patient playing the cello in her own home environment, and to be able to really understand exactly what was going on with her hand.
For patients, virtual care visits provide a way to receive the care they need in a different way. So far, the feedback we’ve received is that our patients love it. The above story is just one example. For those unable to come in for various reasons, or if they live far away, it is a game changer. I anticipate the option for virtual care will continue to be popular, long after the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are now discussing how we might provide in-person care where direct interaction is necessary, and for those patients who prefer seeing their provider face-to-face. This is a step we will not take lightly. It requires us to plan carefully and follow guidelines set by public health experts. We will proceed cautiously, making sure we are protecting the safety of our patients and team members with enhanced disinfecting and infection prevention practices throughout our facilities.
As I reflect on the past couple months, I am reminded why I went into health care. It was a calling to serve, to help people who are sick and help people stay as healthy as possible. That calling has never been stronger than it is today. In this endeavor to tackle COVID-19 and continue to serve all patients who need care, our team feels greatly supported by the community we serve. We continue to be humbled and grateful for the privilege of serving our patients and our community.
Thank you.
Gary S. Kaplan, MD
Chairman and CEO
Virginia Mason Health System