I have an 8 am doctor’s appointment this morning. It’s my trimonthly diabetes checkup. It’s probably going to be a bit of a different experience than usual, and no, I am not talking about COVID-19 procedures. I am used to those by now. Some of you may have heard in the national news about the FBI investigating more than two dozen ransomware attacks at hospitals around the country on October 28. The FBI believes an Eastern European group, known within the security industry as UNC-1878, is thought to be behind the cyberattacks, though they aren’t releasing much information at the moment. The attacks impacted hospitals in Oregon, New York, California, as well as Vermont. My doctor’s office is part of the University of Vermont Health Network, one of the hospitals attacked.
What does this mean for my doctor’s visit? It means that they are back to using paper charts. When I went for physical therapy last week (her clinic is in the same network), I asked her what was going on. She was not able to use her laptop like she usually does during our sessions. She has to write down all her notes and, after the visit, put them into the computer in her office. She said that her office wasn’t as impacted as much because they have not migrated to the new system yet, but my doctor’s office was having a really tough time. They had wholly integrated into the new system, and it is not known when operations will return to normal.
The University of Vermont Medical Center has regained access to some medical records, but the outlying clinics seem to still be a work in progress. According to the news, IT staff restored access to the “read-only” medical records on Thursday, meaning that nurses and doctors can view patients’ medical histories, prescriptions, and past appointments through Oct. 28. That is good news, but so far, IT staff members have cleaned and restored only 1,000 of the network’s 4,500 computers. They hope the system will be running normally by the end of November, but no one has been given a definitive timeline.
It will be interesting to see how this is going to proceed today. The good news is that my fasting blood sugar readings have been very good with the new medication I have been taking over the past three months, so hopefully, I will have a better A1C. It’s been up a little the past week because of the abscessed tooth, as being sick tends to raise your blood sugar. Also, I need to discuss this antibiotic’s side effects with him and see if he thinks I should call my dentist about the continued pain in my tooth. I am afraid the infection is coming back or may have spread to a tooth next to it. It is still hurt, though less, all day yesterday. Besides my better blood sugar readings, my hip seems to be doing much better. I am not having anywhere near the amount of pain I have been having. I hope the lessening of hip pain is reality because when there are multiple pain sites, the most painful area is my tooth—the other pain sites can seem less.
I have a lot to talk to my doctor about, so I hope he has the time in his schedule. If he doesn’t have the time, I will likely never know it. He has never rushed me out of his office. I have had doctors do that before. They get you in, and they get you out as soon as possible. My current doctor has always talked to me, let me ask as many questions as I need to, and explains things very well. To me, the ability to listen is a sign of a good doctor. My doctor has also done a lot to improve my health. He keeps a close eye on my depression, my headaches, and my blood sugar. He is also the one who helped convince me to go to the sleep clinic for sleep apnea. I used to know a lot of people who would depend on those doc-in-a-box places for their medical care, but it is so important to have a primary care physician who knows your medical history and cares that you are healthy.
*The picture above is of Dr. Tyler Hendricks, MD, who is a Family Medicine Specialist in Fort Myers, Florida. He also happens to be a model. You can see more of him on his Instagram @tylerjh. I’d let him poke and prod me any day.