By Liora Engel-Smith
Though he doesn’t see patients face-to-face these days, Dr. Charles Sawyer still carries his prescription pad. The 87-year-old doesn’t often write prescriptions by hand anymore, but there’s something about the familiar feel of the pad in his coat pocket, he said.
Sawyer, a primary care physician at Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, is a traditionalist. He dictates, rather than types, patient notes to be transcribed into electronic charts. And though his notes are readily available to patients through an online portal, he still sends his patients letters after every visit.
In recent weeks, Sawyer’s practice has undergone a seismic change unlike anything else he’s seen in his 55-year career. Sawyer is seeing all of his patients online or via phone.
Gone are the exam room chats and the listening to hearts and lungs — those are left to younger staff who are less at risk for developing COVID-19 complications. Instead, Sawyer sits at his computer at the center in Ahoskie, and checks in with patients by phone or via video.