Editor's Note

Turning the Corner on COVID-19

We all want to get back to normal, but can we? What if we can make something better?

David KopfI miss my friends. I am part of a tight circle of boon companions, paisans, homies, compatriots and fidus Achates that I’ve known since we were kids; most of us have known each other since grade school or junior high. We’ve been thick as thieves for decades. When we were young, we hung out nearly every day, and while we’re now grown men with some of us now putting kids through college, we still manage to visit and joke around as often as we can.

Well, until COVID-19 that is. Because I live in a densely populated area (my county’s population is equal to or greater than that of 20 U.S. states), I’m a year into pretty constant COVID-19 self-isolating, and I am fed up. I feel like I’m in that 1970’s made-for-TV movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble,” and it’s not because of my young-John-Travoltaesque good looks (apologies to anyone younger than GenX for that archaeological pop culture reference).

Sure, my friends and I will do a Zoom session every so often, but the pandemic has all but obliterated that close connection that we’ve enjoyed and maintained for nearly all of our lives. I don’t think it’s dramatic to say that it feels like a major part of my life has been surgically — and abruptly — removed.

However, now that my hair is the longest it’s been since Travolta was a heartthrob, it looks like we might be rounding the corner with COVID-19. Vaccinations are rolling out faster than initially anticipated, with more than 70 million Americans vaccinated as I write this column (and there’s a chance we’ll hit 100 million by the time you read it).

Needless to say, I’m champing at the bit to get my vaccine shots and finally hang out with my friends in person. But I wonder how it’s going to go. I imagine it’ll be a little awkward at first, since we won’t be little video boxes stacked on a screen Brady Bunch style. (Again, with the 1970s TV references.)

But then again, maybe it’ll be better. Being geographically dispersed across the Los Angeles basin, driving to meet up with each other can be a pain in the neck. In fact, with Zoom and Google Hangouts, we’ve actually been hanging out more frequently these days, even if the meetup is virtual. So I’ll notch that as an upside.

Extrapolating that to American healthcare and, in particular, the post-acute world of home medical equipment, maybe we’ll see something similar. I know we’re all asking ourselves what things will look like when the nation starts approaching the 70 percent to 85 percent vaccination coverage that public health experts and epidemiologists say the population needs before we can consider the virus contained.

But do we need to go back to the way things were? In the same way Zoom helped my friends and me not only stay in contact but connect more frequently, HME has helped U.S. healthcare implement all-new care models. For example, respiratory providers now help hospitals deliver actual acute care in the home setting. That’s a major change.

This past year has tortured us, but it’s also transformed us. I’m eager to see what’s around the corner.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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