Coming Home to Visit

Paul Chelminski, MD, and Duncan Vincent, MD, authored a "New Perspectives" piece in the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Forum, about what they learned during a home visit in rural North Carolina during a snowy week last year.

Coming Home to Visit click to enlarge Dr. Paul Chelminski in his office.

Snow disrupts life in North Carolina the way that inconveniences and provokes a house cat. It brings a mix of the ridiculous, the catastrophic, and the miraculous-- and that's why snow is so much more enjoyable in the South. Because of it's relative novelty, we have not developed the routines that allow us to handle snow efficiently or without histrionics. In February 2014, central North Carolina was surprised by five inches of snow with a simultaneous freeze-over of the roads. More than 1,000 people-- visitors, doctors, staff and ambulatory patients-- spent an unexpected night at the hospital. The roads were littered with abandoned cars pointing bizarrely in all directions-- all because the coefficient of rolling friction had been suspended for the afternoon. For two days, ambulatory and elective services were canceled.

On the second day of the catastrophe, my afternoon clinic was canceled. I did, however, have three home visits scheduled for the morning. The roads were still frozen, but the day promised warmer temperatures that would unfreeze them. I have a four-wheel drive pick up truck. Although there was institutional dispensation to take the day off, I saw no reason for the visits not to proceed. I first drove to a local apartment complex to picked up the resident assigned to work with me. There, people were finally digging out there cars only to discover that unplowed parking lots, lack of clearance, and the ongoing lack of friction on paved surfaces were continuing to make driving difficult.

Read full article in this month’s SGIM Forum. Read more about Dr. Chelminski's work as a Sanders Clinician Scholar in Home Visits and Humanities.


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