Dear Patients and LovelySkin Customers,
This has been an ‘interesting’ week at LovelySkin and our dermatology practice. For the first time in 28 years, we shut down the dermatology practice for all visits other than emergencies and clinical research patients after the recommendation from the state and local agencies. It was a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended - well, maybe pun intended...
We transitioned to telemedicine as of Thursday, March 19th, which also happened to be my father's 90th birthday, celebrated by my entire family’s presence on a Skype call.
Clearly, it was not the way we expected to celebrate it, but social distancing is something we all have to live with in order to continue to live.
Telemedicine has been interesting and, in some ways, joyful. It is great to be able to connect to my longstanding patients via this technology and serve them for conditions that are addressable over video. We have already seen patients with acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, as well as the occasional rash or questionable skin growth. Many of our nurses and staff are still coming in to help with the emergency patients (melanomas, study patients, suture removals and urgent skin conditions), for which I am deeply grateful.
The best part of telemedicine has been that I am now able to see patients in a completely different manner and get to know them in their own “space,” giving me my first insight into their lives. Consider this the 21st-century version of “house-calls.” I did a rough calculation demonstrating that the patients I saw on a single day saved over 750 miles of driving to and from the practice in Omaha as well as the risk of being in a waiting room with other patients. This alone made me happy to be a “teledoc.”
The other thing that may be possible is to serve my LovelySkin customers personally via telemedicine. First and foremost, I want to take care of my regular patients, but my guess is that we will have some opportunity to care for our extended group of people that comprise the LovelySkin family. You can register for a skin consultation or other skin visit here.
We have continued to employ every single medical and website employee who wants to be employed. Several chose to stay home for the (hopefully) brief time we will be closed in order to either take a break or be with family who needs them. Many of our employees are working from home and their productivity has been great due to fewer interruptions. Those who need to come in are being given significant space for social distancing and continuing to be monitored three times daily for fever or any other symptoms. There is not a place in the warehouse or dermatology office that hasn't been Cloroxed or cleaned at least twice a day since this began!
LovelySkin.com and its remarkable employees continue to work extremely hard to get orders out in a timely manner. So far, we have not seen a single hiccup in the operation. In fact, we are taking on two new brands which previously didn't consider selling on the internet but which are doing so now in order to fully serve their loyal customers. It is a win-win for us and these brands. One of them, SENTE, a respected brand that is based on a Heparan Sulfate Analog active, will go live this week. The other new one is in process and will likely be available in a week or two. We are delighted to serve this new group of customers.
If there are any new recommendations, I would give to individuals the following (in addition to my previous list, which proved eerily true as our government implemented most of them over the past week):
Please redouble your efforts to be careful in public. Instead of asking yourself “Will I get COVID-19 if I go hang out with my [friends, grandparents, co-workers]?”, try to adopt the following mentality: “Let’s assume that I have COVID-19 but am currently without symptoms – would I still want to be around all these people (whom I could potentially infect)?” This is the sad reality – any of us could have this disease (and this includes children and adolescents, who can carry and pass along the disease but are often without symptoms).
If you have a mask, wear it wherever you go. Don't believe the public announcements saying that masks don't help – I firmly believe they are a benefit. When I go to the grocery store, I wear a mask and gloves. With that being said, if you have large stockpiles of masks (perhaps you are a painter or industrial worker and have extras in your garage), please consider donating to your local hospital. They are running terrifyingly low on medical supplies (especially masks), and they don’t have the luxury of staying home that some of us do. Anything helps.
Please try to bag your own groceries. While the COVID-19 virus isn't long-lasting, it can live on most surfaces for a few hours, which is enough time for you to pick it up if a bagger has it and touches your groceries.
If you get food via pickup or delivery, consider any container suspicious. While COVID-19 hasn’t been shown to be spread by food itself (and it is most likely killed by stomach acid), the containers can still spread the virus if you touch your face (eyes, nose, etc.) while eating. I recommend transferring the food from the restaurant container into one of your home containers without touching the container and consider microwaving or heating it up prior to eating it.
Remember that social distancing is your best chance of beating this awful scourge and keeping you and your family and friends (and the rest of the world) safe. This means you should distance yourself at the stores, parks, and any place you would otherwise be in close contact with people.
Don't shake anyone's hand or hug/kiss anyone you don't have to until this is over. Shaking hands is one of the best ways to transmit germs and viruses and the medical profession has long-known that this is terrible. We tolerated it just due to social convention, but it has been the cause of many colds and illnesses over the years and should be abandoned.
Take this time to relax. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade! for the past 25 years – since the dawn of the internet – many of us have lived lives that have been chaotic, overwhelming, burdened and friendless. “Friendship” has become as empty as a click on a Facebook post or a brief text. For anyone who ever dreamed of “unplugging,” now is your chance. Get to know your family if you are holing up at home, or reach out to friends you may have lost track of in the intervening years. One of the few benefits of this self-imposed hibernation may be to allow many of us to “recharge” our batteries, assuming we don't get sick with the virus. For all of you reading this, I hope that any of your friends and family who do become ill with this, recover quickly and fully.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We are there for you as your extended family and I am happy to receive emails at skindoc@LovelySkin.com if you have any questions regarding this. I will try to update you if and when I feel there is anything that needs to be said. Stay safe!
Joel Schlessinger, M.D. Board-Certified Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon CEO of LovelySkin