After his post went viral regarding closing his practice in the midst of the pandemic, Doctor T. Douglas Gurley posted this letter to patients stating he will remain open. Read below:
WE ARE NOT CLOSING. We are open and we will remain open.
Last week I had to stop being Dr. Gurley and became a patient. Being on the front lines of healthcare, several of our staff and I were infected with COVID-19. I have been severely ill, but have started to turn the corner. There was a lot of confusion in how to handle this crisis in my office, but I made the decision together with the medical epidemiologist at the state health department to close the office since we had our own epidemic within the staff. That caused many more issues to deal with and at that point I became incapacitated. This decision to permanently close the business was made with me in distress. That letter was written for me, but this one is directly from me. We are in business and not going away. I’m am sorry for the confusion, distress and disappointment caused be my earlier notice that our medical practice would be closing. I sincerely apologize to you.
I express sincere sympathy to everyone that has contracted COVID-19. I personally understand how serious this infection can be. It was very scary for me at times, even though I am a doctor, to be short of breath. My condition really scared and caused panic to my husband, daughter, family, and friends — paramedics were called to my house and I had to take a trip to the ER. It was a nightmare.
Dr. Elliott, PA Jeremiah Robinson and PA Forrest Griffin, and Duane have been available to respond to your questions and needs. I hope to be able to rejoin them in about two weeks.
I want to thank you for the overwhelmingly kind and generous responses you’ve posted on social media, emails and voice-mails expressing concern and love for the entire staff. Your support is greatly appreciated.
I am especially proud and grateful for the supportive responses directed to my staff, who have met this unprecedented challenge with great courage and demonstrated their dedication to our patients.
In this time of national emergency, we, as a team, will provide you with the same outstanding care that we have been providing to our community for over 18 years. We will provide you with direct, honest, and clear answers to all the questions you might have. We’ve tried below to answer some questions you may have.
When will it be possible to make an in-person appointment?
The office will be physically open and return to regular hours on Monday, March 30, 2020, barring unforeseen events such as changes in CDC guidelines and government orders. Additionally, we are getting ready to launch telemedicine access and will be sending you details about this shortly. This will allow you to see and talk to your healthcare provider through secure video.
I understand that some of the staff may have been infected with COVID-19. Is this true and how are they doing?
Yes. They are recovering. No one will be reporting back to work until they are fully recovered. We are complying with all CDC protocols to protect our patients, staff and the public. As I previously informed you, I was infected. I am recovering and will return back to work when I have been cleared to do so.
Am I at risk if I’ve been to your office lately?
If you were in the office between Monday, March 9th and Friday, March 20th, and saw the medical teams led by Dr. Elliott, Forrest, Duane, or me, you had potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. Pursuant to current CDC guidelines, if you were treated by one of those teams you should quarantine yourself for two weeks from the date you were in the office. As you have probably heard by now, you can be contagious before symptoms appear.
Will the office be safe to visit?
Yes. The office has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. We have followed the CDC guidelines to ensure your safety.
Can I make an appointment at your office right now?
Beginning on Monday, March 30th, you will be able to reach our front desk to make an appointment. At this time we won’t be doing routine visits and follow-ups in the office. Nor will we be testing for COVID-19. Piedmont Healthcare has several drive-through testing sites open now. We will be seeing patients with serious health problems in the office and follow-ups by telemedicine.
If I have a medical issue right now, how do I reach the healthcare provider who usually treats me?
What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19 right now?
You can contact Dr. Elliott, Jeremiah and Forrest through the patient portal.
If you begin to have symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, chills, with cough and body aches — and your symptoms are mild with no respiratory distress, there is no need for testing at this point, and you can manage your symptoms with over the counter prescriptions like Tylenol, ibuprofen and Mucinex.
If your symptoms are more severe and you are having shortness of breath, you should report to the emergency room at a nearby hospital.
Should I come to the office if I suspect I have Covid-19?