Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the U.S. and — like other major epidemics — is shedding a merciless light on the failings of the U.S. health care delivery system
The first is its deficient primary care capability. Many Americans lack access to affordable primary care providers they know and trust, and who know them. In the case of epidemic illness, primary care professionals offer a first line of defense in the form of trusted advice and care that keeps people from flooding emergency rooms and hospital outpatient departments when they don’t need to be there. When individuals who are unlikely to have Covid-19 crowd such facilities, they not only delay care for the truly ill but are much more likely to get infected themselves. And if they have the disease, but it is mild, they pose a risk to other patients and staff. Should an effective vaccine for Covid-19 be developed, primary care providers will also be critical to dispensing it, as they are for all preventive care.
In the absence of a functioning, widely available primary care capacity, the U.S. will have to establish ad hoc systems to advise and treat the many Americans who have Covid-19 related issues — real or feared. The attendant delay and expense may have been avoidable…….more