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Two WellSpan primary care providers share experiences

May 02, 2020

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Stephen Flack, M.D., medical director of primary care in Franklin County, right, and Emily Koontz, R.N., review a patient’s chart at WellSpan Family Medicine, Philadelphia Avenue, Chambersburg.

Stephen Flack, M.D., medical director of primary care in Franklin County, right, and Emily Koontz, R.N., review a patient’s chart at WellSpan Family Medicine, Philadelphia Avenue, Chambersburg.

A key instinct for any physician is to bring a patient back to good health.

As WellSpan continued through its COVID-19 journey, some of the primary care providers strongly felt the urge to step up.

"Internally, I had that gut feeling or maybe it was a divine force telling me that this is where I need to be right now," said Joe McDermott, D.O., of WellSpan Family Medicine – Mercersburg.

Stephen Flack, M.D., medical director of primary care in Franklin County, added, “I am obviously worried about community health, the health of my patients, but I was also concerned about my hospitalist colleagues, and wanted to be available to support them in a time of need.”

On March 28, there was a request for all WellSpan providers to assign their priority level of interest for redeployment, which ranged from immediate to future.

According to Niki Hinckle, senior vice president of physician services at WellSpan, 36 outpatient providers were prepared to redeploy to the hospital to work as hospitalists in Franklin County. In addition to this, CRNAs and anesthesiologists were trained to support increased numbers of critical care patients.

Across the WellSpan system, more than 150 physicians and advance practice providers have also answered the call for redeployment.

An early redeployment allowed Flack and McDermott an opportunity to orient and effectively train and join the efforts of their colleagues if needed.

"I felt that I have a fantastic support base within my own practice at Mercersburg that I was able to make this decision freely without any concern," McDermott explained.

Thus far, Flack and McDermott’s hospital activity has included a practice admission and a discharge with a hospitalist alongside as well as writing some progress notes.

McDermott said that he and Dr. Flack are on "stand-by" and prepared if needed.

"We are all in this together as a team, and any skills I might have to serve the community should and will be offered," Flack said.

Since 2011, Flack’s level of gratitude toward providers and staff at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital has been unwavering. At age 40, he suffered a stroke, but thanks to an immediate response by the hospital’s team, he was set on a path where he has regained a normal, healthy life.

"I feel that caring for patients at the point of attack and when they are sometimes at their most vulnerable is the most rewarding feeling in the world," McDermott said.

"No matter which way things go, as of late, hopefully for the better, being able to be diverse and help in any capacity means a lot to me. That is the definition of being a team player, and I feel that is important in situations such as this."

For additional information related to COVID-19, including the COVID-19 Information Dashboard and WellSpan’s ongoing preparations, visit WellSpan.org/Coronavirus.