P.S. This is basically stream of consciousness writing, so I hope you enjoy getting to learn my voice!
Today is March 29, 2020 and we are entering week 2 of the Coronavirus mandatory quarantine in Ohio. Because I'm a medical professional, my office is still allowed to be open because it's considered essential; like liquor stores and fast food restaurants. But it's also a Sunday, so that typically means that patients have to go to urgent care or an emergency department for medical care. And this provides the very first reason that I love my job: Because I can work when my patients need me because I'm my own boss!
Who am I? Maybe I should have started with that. My name is Leslee Mcelrath, MD and I seriously HATE taking pictures... and white coats! So here I am in the dreaded white coat.
I hold a Doctor of Medicine degree from Wright State University in Dayton, OH and specialize in Family Medicine; which is a primary care specialty (I'm not a generalist), but that's a rant for a different day. Because today I'm happy and droning on and on about how patients don't understand my specialty will just bring the mood down.
So why should you care about who I am and why I love my job? Because along with being a primary care physician that is transforming medical care in Akron, OH, I'm a big advocate for doing things that make sense. And during this coronavirus pandemic lots of things that don't make sense within the healthcare landscape are starting to show their colors. Like the cost of treatment, the dependence on specialist care, and how sickly we have allowed our communities to get because of a lack of knowledge of how to care for ourselves properly.
But again, that's not what this initial post is about. This post is about this photo and why it makes me so happy to be a doctor.
Social distancing is something that everyone should be taking very seriously; because it's not about you getting sick, it's about protecting others. Because of this, my church (Shiloh Baptist Church in Akron, OH) is shut down for regular service to protect our members. I volunteer as the videographer for the church, so we stream the service to YouTube every Sunday. This job is especially important during this Coronavirus pandemic, so I was there to record. A patient contacted me about a splinter that he got while cleaning the pulpit in preparation for the recorded service. I glanced at it and told him some home remedies to try, because my focus was setting up for the live stream, but also reminded him to text me if his finger got any worse. Yes, you read that right, my patients are able to text me with medical questions.
After the completion of the live stream, my patient went home and tried my recommendation, but when it didn't work he contacted me. We met at my office; I have office hours on Sunday for acute issues. Why? Cause illness and injury don't respect office hours; how rude, right!
I clean, numb, and start digging at the area where we can see the splinter, but it's too deep to just pull out with tweezers. After about 8-10 minutes of digging at his finger, I'm thinking this is useless and suggest that we do a punch biopsy (a 3 mm circular chunk) to get what I assume is a deep, but small splinter. But then the patient reminds me to exercise patients and continue going; cause he can't feel his finger right now and doesn't REALLY want a hole in his finger. So I take a breath and go back to work, after a few more minutes I'm able to see the end of the splinter and grab it. The giant hunk of wood in the picture above (ok it's not really all that giant, but was WAY bigger than I thought it would be) came out his finger. He was grateful, a bit smug that he got to remind me to be patient, but most importantly was able to leave the office without a 3 mm chunk out his finger or a bill for the visit.
Now some of you might be like, "Why did I just read about a doctor taking out a splinter and what does that have to do with her loving her job?" Because it's SUNDAY! How many people can say that they can get in with their primary care doctor, not a Minute Clinic Nurse Practitioner, on a Sunday to have anything done? Not many, if any I'm sure. Plus I was able to do a procedure instead of referring him to someone else; though I have no clue which specialty does splinters... maybe General Surgery? I was able to save this patient time, prolonged pain, risk of infection, and peace of mind because he knows that it's done right. Plus again, I got to do a procedure and that's always fun for me.
When I opened Monarch Ideal Care llc, I made a vow that I would do things that make sense to me and since my target patient is someone that's self employed or an entrepreneur, flexible hours are a must. As a small business myself, I understand that taking time off work to get medical care doesn't make financial sense, so most people wait until the last minute. But playing this game can be worse in the long run; increased complications, no focus on prevention, and higher cost because more things are wrong. So I have evening and weekend availability for my subscription patients (click there to learn about subscription options) so they can get the care they deserve without having to leave their job early and miss out on making money.
I love that I was able to alleviate his pain, which is why most doctors go into the field, and I was able to do it without the patient having a large medical bill. Being able to do the right thing and make primary medical care affordable is my goal in life, and today I was able to achieve that goal, if only for one person. And that's why I LOVE my job; cause it's more than a career, it's a calling!
Continue in great health,
Leslee R. Mcelrath, MD
My patient gave me permission to tell this story. I have been putting off blogging about my practice, but I was just so excited about that splinter that I had to start. Hope you enjoyed and will come back for more shenanigans with me.