Not Letting a Hurricane Stop You from Caring for Patients

October 24, 2016
Daniel Hoffman, MD

One independent doctor says that he treats his career as a profession, not as a job. As such, hurricanes don't stop him from practicing medicine.

As I write this Hurricane Matthew is approaching Florida. I am in Central Illinois and we get storms that result in power failures, which in turn shuts down our computers and servers.

Since I am independent, I still open the office myself and see patients when this happens. I can light the waiting area and exam rooms with battery operated lanterns and carry a flashlight. I do not need a computer to practice medicine as I still have the paper charts at the office to give me a starting point if I have seen the patient in the past. I can just make notes on paper and write out the prescriptions on the blanks we have at the office.

I can still use the blood pressure cuff, glass thermometers, and battery operated scopes - as well as my brain - to practice medicine. I have noticed that with employed physicians, no power means no doctor at the office. Since the phones are out the patients, cannot call but they can still come to the office and expect me to be there.

This is my profession not just a job that I have until I can find another one. If the office building were to be damaged, as long as I could get here I would still be seeing patients even in the parking lot. I hope that there are a few physicians like me in Florida and Georgia that have been there for people who need us rather than leave and come back later.

An employee has no incentive to risk anything for the employer, but a physician with a profession will lay everything on the line for his patients. When I was a child there was a hurricane that hit the island of the Jersey coast we lived on. When the storm passed everything was flooded and there was a lot of damage. I remember my uncle who was a GP back then stayed and treated his patients. I would like to think that there are a lot more out there like him that still have roots and will be there when needed by their communities, whether they are employed or not.