Primary-care practices were barely eking by. If patients stay away too long, they’ll crumble.
Some coronavirus patients experience a mild fever or never know they were infected. Others crash quickly and unpredictably, five to 12 days after developing symptoms; every doctor on the front lines has been humbled by a patient who is fine in the morning and on a ventilator in the afternoon. To combat this problem, primary-care teams at my hospital are trying something new: calling patients on Days 2, 5 and 8 after we’ve diagnosed them with covid-19 and instructed them to self-isolate at home. We’re looking for signs of an impending crash. We’re also reaching out to our frailest patients and giving them instructions about what to do if they contract the virus.