To overcome the catastrophic coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at hand, it’s important to recognize the positives. One beacon is selfless service. Countless acts by organizations and individuals alike are minimizing the lasting damage. This hard work isn’t only done by the ER doctors, nurses, and first responders constituting our last line of defense. It’s also the good Samaritans doing thankless work next door. We raise our glasses to all the local heroes on the front lines—from all the hospital workers to the grocery stockers, postal workers, small business owners, plus those delivering goods to the elderly and at-risk, #weoweyoudrink.
In this installation, we spoke with Dr. Cory Spurlock of Exer Urgent Care who spends his days diligently working (literally) on the front lines of this catastrophic time in history. With doors open seven days a week and locations all over California, it goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has rattled Dr. Spurlock and his team’s world significantly the past few months.
Here’s what he had to say about his role during this unprecedented time.
Name: Cory Spurlock
Title: Chief Medical Officer, Exer Urgent Care
Location: All over Los Angeles County
Years on the Job: I’ve been an ER physician for 16 years and have been with Exer Urgent Care for the past 3 years. Exer is LA County’s fastest growing Urgent Care System, thanks in large part to the fact we are staffed by ER Doctors.
How has your work changed in the last few months? What are the biggest challenges ahead?
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our work environment has changed in several ways, especially with the wild swing in volume and types of cases we’ve seen. We went from a steady census off of flu season where we saw typical ER/Urgent Care patients. We then dramatically slowed down to almost a stand still. Shortly after a month of uneasy calm, we were hit by an onslaught of COVID concerned patients, with minimal Urgent Care patients.
Now, our typical patients are starting to stream back in with steady COVID-related cases. I anticipate this will continue into a busy flu season, posing a big challenge to combat COVID/Flu and normal Urgent Care patients. Our processes in how we triage and allow patients into our facilities have been greatly impacted and it will be interesting to see how we are able to make this work as we head into flu season.
I find it helpful to appreciate the bright spots during this pandemic. Specifically, in the Los Angeles area, we’ve seen a decrease in traffic, air pollution has dropped, normal daily hygiene practices have improved, and focus has shifted to the important things in life such as family and relationships.
Do you feel at risk/threatened?
I don’t at all. The pandemic has definitely brought different stressors, however, as an emergency physician I am trained to handle critical situations and dangerous, rapidly changing circumstances. This is what we do. Furthermore, at Exer we take the necessary precautions with PPE, protocols, triple disinfecting steps to ensure the safety of our patients, staff, and ourselves.
Do you see signs of hope?
I most definitely do. We as a healthcare community and country—and Exer as a company—have worked tirelessly to combat an ever-changing situation. As a result of this pandemic, our innovation and teamwork are on display now, more than ever before. We are definitely seeing a surge in cases, but overall patients are clinically doing better and recovering faster.
Should people be out working?
At this point, it’s a tough balance between a healthcare emergency and a significant economic toll. I do believe we should let people return to their jobs and have the ability to provide for their families. I believe we can do this in a safe manner with all of the new practices we as a country have learned to master such as maintaining proper hygiene and consistently washing hands.
The importance of self-care including exercise, healthy eating, wearing a mask in the appropriate situations, and social distancing all play a key role in staying healthy. Unfortunately, the poor economic toll that this has taken on peoples’ lives is often greater than the health impact. However, I think we can all get back at it safely.
During these past few months, we’ve made it our mission to better service patients by having nasal and antibody testing available at all our Southern California clinics, especially as people transition back to work.
In addition, we’ve launched VirtualCare by Exer, which provides our community an online platform to seek medical attention via video chat, offering patients a quick diagnosis and treatment plan from the safety and comfort of their home.