Redeployment of Primary Care Workers During Pandemic: One Physician’s Look Back

Looking back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Chicago-based physician can clearly see how valuable “redeployment” of family and primary care physicians was to both the frontline health care of patients and preventative and educational care in the community.

In an essay published on the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website, Dr. Michael Hanak, associate chief medical officer for population health and an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, discusses how outreach to high-risk patients was important to the Medical Center’s success in managing patient volume.

“The pandemic has laid bare the inequities of our health care system for patients in our communities, while highlighting the consequences of our misguided valuation of primary care services and health education,” Dr. Hanak wrote.

“Beyond an organized front-line response, we must continue our advocacy to grow a primary care workforce dedicated to improving the very comorbidities that have exacerbated the mortality risk from this novel coronavirus: obesity, diabetes, respiratory disease and other chronic illnesses,” he added. “Team-based care has never been more important as we seek agility in our care delivery and in our leadership response to an evolving set of challenges.”

The Physician Retraining & Reentry (PRR) program applauds health care providers that re-assess and redeploy physicians to address community health care needs. This agility and flexibility in the workforce will continue to be needed as the physician shortage makes preventative care and education a priority. PRR’s goal is to prepare physicians to serve as primary care physicians to help grow the shrinking, and critical, front-line workforce.

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