The thought of needing healthcare can be frightening during a pandemic. Surgeries are postponed, doctors’ offices are encouraging patients to stay home, and hospitals are urging people to stay away except for true life-threatening emergencies.

Handling healthcare dilemmas, big and small, is a massive hurdle for physicians and patients alike. We asked a few civilians to share their experiences with healthcare during the pandemic. The results? A bag of mixed emotions.

1) “Urgent Care Was a Ghost Town”

“I had to go to urgent care because of an infected ingrown toenail. Urgent care was a ghost town– lights in the waiting room were off, and they practically pretended to be closed. No other patients were there. The nurse knew part of my toenail needed to be removed, but she warned me that it might be difficult to find a podiatrist during the pandemic. Luckily, they did find me one at a local hospital. My partner was not allowed to come in with me. The doctor told me the toenail could not be removed that day because he didn’t want me in the hospital for any longer than I needed to be, and he also didn’t want to give me an open healing wound during a highly contagious outbreak. He gave me a temporary fix, and I went on my way.”

2) “It’s Humbling to Know That Even Healthcare Providers Are at a Loss”

“I’ve had both therapy and psychiatry appointments virtually given the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s actually been surprisingly nice to have them through telemedicine. They’ve used different video conferencing platforms, but it felt pretty close to an in-person appointment, and I didn’t have to leave work early for my visits since they were from home (as is work). I’ve found that a lot of time was spent talking about the impact of COVID-19, which was to be expected, and I think it’s weirdly humbling to know that even healthcare providers are at a loss in some ways right now. I had a phone call about a medication issue with an endocrinologist, and I found that to be not as successful use of telemedicine, but her bedside manner isn’t great anyway, so it’s probably more about that than the use of the phone.”

3) “She Didn’t Want to Go to the Hospital”

“I had a friend of a friend who was homeless who died this past week. She was young (early 20s, I believe) and had, for a long time, lung issues. She didn’t want to go to the hospital when she started having breathing issues because of not wanting to take away equipment from others & also scared to catch coronavirus herself.”

4) “Zoom Bombing”

“I had to educate my own therapist about ‘zoom bombing’ and video chat privacy after she sent her room ID to all of her clients. Otherwise has been positive, but she was going to text people when it was their turn when to enter the room (I can only imagine someone else’ walking in on’ the previous session inadvertently!)”

5) “I’m Hoping I Don’t Have Too Bad of a Flare”

“I’ve been in total limbo for addressing chronic illness symptoms. There’s nothing that can be done differently without an in-person assessment, so I’m just taking the meds I currently have and hoping I don’t have too bad of a flare. Also, I was meant to be having a surgery mid-March to help with pain management that got (understandably) canceled last minute.”

What will patient care be like in the next few months? We will have to see. Overall, it seems to be that telemedicine has been the biggest savior during this time. Please check out our article on Using Technology to Connect With Patients to learn more about taking care of patients in their time of need.