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    Andy Stonehouse, MA
    As the battle against COVID-19 slips into a second year, medical professionals across the country have done a remarkable job maintaining their energy and focus.

    Darin Vercillo, MD, chief medical officer, co-founder, Central Logic, says it is that personal part of the pandemic care equation that will help doctors, nurses and other frontline staff continue to make significant strides in 2021. Working with his staff as he has the past year, he says a positive but realistic attitude will be critical in maintaining the momentum to combat COVID. 

    “I think we need to be transparent and honest with ourselves and everyone else that this is still going to go on for a while,” Vercillo said on an early January episode on the MGMA Insights podcast. “We have made such tremendous strides in conquering this, just in the change of how we practice, with PPE, with limiting contact and now with the vaccine. I think being clear with our expectations of what 2021 is going to bring will help us avoid the disappointment of expecting too much.” 

    Flexing your change management muscles

    Both of Vercillo’s professional roles – he’s also a board-certified hospitalist – have helped shape him into a change management expert. That calls for proactive and flexible solutions to the never-ending curveballs the pandemic has thrown the medical community’s way. At his facility, that has meant doing some creative long-term thinking about care.

    “We always want to make sure there’s continuity of care when a patient leaves the hospital," Vercillo said. “If their primary care provider or if the subspecialist that they need to see is using telehealth, we can get them prepared for that, because that might not be something they’ve been used to in the past. We’re working very closely with those providers in the community, with case managers and care managers, with social workers, to make sure that these appointments, the follow-up, the continuity, is set up and is rock solid.”

    Communication is key

    Vercillo said clear communication has become vital in providing the best care in this pandemic environment. 

    “If people are critically ill on a ventilator with COVID, they can’t have visitors in the room at all,” Vercillo said. “And so the communication with medical staff to family members, to let them know the status of the patient, what the plan of care is, to involve them in that, so they’re not just waiting in the wings, living in a black box and not knowing what’s happening with their loved one. It’s so crucial for us to overcome that.”

    ‘Buoy each other up’

    Vercillo said the most important strategy for success in 2021 is to build on the newly enhanced relationships that have formed among provider teams during these challenging times. 

    “We need to continue to communicate with each other and be open and honest with our feelings, and we need to help each other bear each other’s burdens and buoy each other up. These are great people and families we work with,” he said. “As we continue to go into this year, I think we found a new level of interconnectedness. Even though physically we’ve had to distance, the ability to connect with each other is another strength that will make 2021 a greater year for all of us. 

    “We have to carry this load. Obviously, it’s not going to go away. But I think working together, we can make sure it’s as enjoyable as it can be.” 

    Hear more from Vercillo in this episode of the MGMA Insights podcast:



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    Written By

    Andy Stonehouse, MA

    Andy Stonehouse, MA, is a Colorado-based freelance writer and educator. His professional credits include serving as editor of Employee Benefit News and a variety of financial and insurance publications, in addition to work in the recreation and transportation fields.  

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