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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with neurologist Dr. Mitzi Williams, we discuss challenges and disparities in multiple sclerosis patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MD Newsline:

What are the biggest challenges that neurologists are tasked with in the wake of COVID-19?

Dr. Mitzi Williams:

“I think the biggest challenge that neurologists are tasked with in the wake of COVID-19 is how to see our patients. Right? It’s very difficult to do a good physical exam via telemedicine. It’s also difficult to deliver news such as the diagnosis of MS via telemedicine. Empathy can sometimes be missed when we’re looking at a screen.

Also, the follow-up can be difficult. So, if you have a patient who needs to be seen fairly quickly and needs imaging tests done, sometimes there may be backup at the imaging centers because of certain cleaning protocols due to COVID-19.

So, there are multiple factors at play that can take away from and slow the care that we were normally able to give pre-pandemic.”

 

MD Newsline:

Do you think MS disparities have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Dr. Mitzi Williams:

“In my opinion, I do think MS disparities have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic because of fear of seeking care. Right? Especially at the beginning of the pandemic when we didn’t have a vaccine and doctors weren’t sure how to treat COVID-19. So, people with symptoms of MS, like numbness and tingling, who may have gone to urgent care or the emergency department didn’t go because of fear of getting COVID-19 and because of very long wait lines of people who were sick with COVID-19.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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