Regional medical director shares COVID-19 insights

Ann Buchanan, MD

Doctors are in a unique position to be on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are unprecedented times,” said Ann Buchanan, MD, emergency physician and regional medical director for TeamHealth. There is nothing in modern times to compare coronavirus to. “This is akin to the Spanish flu in 1918,” she added.

TeamHealth is a national, physician-led company. Buchanan’s group consists of 150 physicians who cover the region including San Marcos (Hayes County), Austin (Travis and Williamson Counties), Lampassas (Lampassas County),  Killeen (Bell County), and Palestine (Anderson County).

Buchanan — who lives in Steiner Ranch and is an active member of the Four Points community — is communicating daily with doctors about coronavirus. She shares a bit about what she’s seeing in this Four Points News Q&A. 

1) What are you seeing as a result of social distancing and Tuesday’s order to shelter-in-place?

We are seeing decreased overall hospital volumes at this time with people staying home. Hospitals are limiting visitors and stopping elective procedures, so we do not see the sheer volume of people that we typically see coming into ERs or hospitals as a whole.  

On the bright side, I am happy to see so many people outside exercising and spending time as families.

2) Are these tactics by the city and county making the expected/needed difference?

It is making a difference so far. Although we are seeing community spread of the virus, I believe the measures put into place are helping to curb the sheer number of cases.

3) Are these the best practices to be used right now to stop the spread?

 At this time I believe these are best practices.

4)  When is peak expected in the local area? Austin-Travis County hit more than 100 cases on Wednesday.

Although I cannot accurately predict, I would expect that we will begin to see some surge related to COVID illness in the next few weeks. 

5)  How are the local hospitals prepared for this pandemic? Do we have plenty of beds, etc?

The local hospitals are prepared and are planning daily for what may come. They have many measures in place to ensure that we can provide excellent care to the community as a whole.

6) Anything else you want to share about this situation?

If you are sick, stay home. Do not go out even to grocery shop. Do not show up to an ER expecting a COVID test. If you are ill enough to go to the hospital in a manner that would have normally made you go to the emergency room, then by all means go … but if you are not experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, then shelter-in-place and self quarantine for 14 days.