Spring 2020

The New Normal

There are two predictable reactions to change — opposition and adaptation. Both are useful. The COVID-19 epidemic spun through our primary missions of patient care, education and research like a tornado, throwing traditional practices through the neighborhood trees and flinging personal items into the next county. Patients that rely on our department for diagnosis or ongoing care were unable to come to the clinic and risked exposure to the virus. The need for social distancing meant that research labs had to be shut down for all but essential activities. Medical education shifted away from the bedside and classroom lecture.

UCLA Neurology adapted to these changes, and grew new systems of patient care and education, and new ways for research communication. The epidemic shifted much patient care to video visits in a telemedicine format, enabling patients to stay in the safety and comfort of their homes while still receiving care. In addition, our main educational activity in the Department, Neurology Grand Rounds (a weekly lecture from a leading neurological scientist), actually increased participation and engagement with its new on-line format. It turned out that Zooming cutting-edge science and clinical care concepts was very popular. At the same time as these adaptations, Neurology faculty and staff recognized that some of this change is not helpful in the long term, and worked in opposition to the epidemic and its demands, to ensure that essential elements of human contact, such as urgent in-person care, could be instituted in safety.

This issue of the UCLA Neurology Chair’s report describes the efforts of three faculty on the front lines of the epidemic in inpatient and outpatient clinical care and medical education. Dr. Jason Hinman is an Assistant Professor in Neurology, specializing in stroke. Dr. Martina Wiedau is a Professor of Neurology and co-Medical Director of the UCLA Neurology Clinics. Dr. Yvette Bordelon is a Professor of Neurology, an expert in Parkinson’s Disease, and runs the medical student education in the Department.

Next Story: Hospital Neurology Care in the COVID-19 Era