Communication Skills in the Age of COVID-19

Our friends at VitalTalk have published a concise commentary on communicating in the age of COVID.  I very much appreciate their efforts over the years to improve communication across and country, and indeed across the world.  I am also grateful for their support our the ACT Program here at UR Medicine.

I would like only to stress here that while I agree that the standard, non-crisis, paradigm of the patient’s values being paramount does change in a crisis situation…this is only with respect to the specific limitations imposed by demand in excess of supply.  This does not, and I are certain they would agree, that we should not explore our patients’ values.

There are many things that an individual values aside from the potential benefit of a specific intervention, whether or not it is available.  In the face of approaching death our patients will certainly be hoping for any number of things, saying good bye to loved ones, making amends, getting “right with God,” and many others.

In this terrible pandemic the exploration of Values is all the more important and we should, indeed must, double down on exploring them in the context of externally imposed limits.

To all of our colleagues and friends across out institution, state, country, and the world, know that you are not alone. We are in this together and I know we will continue to compassionately care for our patients, even when that means putting ourselves in harms way.

Stay safe!

— Tom Carroll

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