It’s one of the tiniest machines on the planet — about a hundred times smaller than the average cell. It’s so small that no scientist can spot it through a typical light microscope. Only with an electron microscope can we see its spiky surface. It’s not alive, and it’s not what most of us would think of as “dead.” This teensy machine seems to survive in a kind of purgatory state, yet it has traveled across continents and oceans from host to host, and brought hundreds of nations to a standstill. Despite its diminutive size, the novel coronavirus, dubbed SARS-CoV-2, has seemingly taken the world by surprise with its virulence.
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From Johns Hopkins Medicine (April 30, 2020):
“A lot of our pediatric divisions are now seeing 80% or more of their patients by video or telephone,” says Hughes.
The Children’s Center’s preparations for the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, were unwittingly sparked by pediatrician Helen Hughes and her early work in telemedicine outreach for pediatric subspecialists. In 2018, she spearheaded development of a telemedicine collaboration with the Talbot County Health Department on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The goal was to ease the burden of long treks to Johns Hopkins’ Baltimore campus for young patients — especially medically complex patients — for follow-up visits. At the time, she said, “This is where the future of health care is headed. Video technologies can allow us to do so many things for our patients without having to see them in person every time.”
The Children’s Center, notes Hughes, had been conducting between zero and eight video visits per month for the past two years. In the second half of March, after the coronavirus had clearly arrived, Johns Hopkins pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists saw 800 patients via telemedicine. That number increased to 1,400 telemedicine visits in the first half of April. Additionally, MyChart users in April jumped to 71%.