Member of the Month:
Triwanna Fisher-Wikoff, MD, FAAFP
Fort Worth family physician adapts patient care to the pandemic, draws strength from her team
By Kate Alfano
Triwanna Fisher-Wikoff, MD, FAAFP, is a family physician in private practice in Fort Worth. She is a member of Texas Health Care/Privia Medical Group of North Texas, a multi-specialty group in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with over 200 providers, and is an associate physician with Cityview Care Center. She practices traditional family medicine covering adolescents to geriatrics. In addition to volunteer work, Fisher-Wikoff is an alumna of the TAFP Family Medicine Leadership Experience, active in the Texas Family Medicine Preceptorship Program, and sits on the TAFP commissions for Continuing Professional Development and Health Care Services and Managed Care. Additionally, she serves as chairperson of the Practice Development Committee at Texas Health Care, and has received the American Medical Association Physician Recognition Award annually since 2008, among many other honors.
How has your practice changed/adapted to serve patients during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since the beginning, we have followed every recommendation from the CDC as well as our local health department. We have changed the layout of our office to adhere to social distancing from spacing out the waiting room chairs to spacing out the staff in the nursing area.
We have moved to 99% virtual visits. We chose to remain in the office for ease of communication and our lab is still available to patients, especially my older patients who need bloodwork but are hesitant to head to an outside laboratory due to crowds. Most of my patients have taken well to telemedicine. It has been very interesting to teach some of my older patients how to operate features on their iPhone that they have never had to use before. We are able to direct patients to the appropriate testing facilities for COVID-19. While seeing every patient through telemedicine would be ideal, we still have the occasional patient who needs to be seen in the office. For instance, we had one patient who called with a simple laceration that we repaired in the office rather than making the patient go to the emergency room and sit in a sick waiting room. We make sure all patients are screened for COVID-19 before letting them enter the building to make sure they do not pose a risk to staff, and we make sure to wear our PPE. We even had to make one house call for one of our elderly patients who incurred an injury at home. Luckily the patient was okay, but he said that my medical assistant and I looked like “spacemen” in our PPE. We are blessed to be able to care for our patients in any capacity that we can, especially during this time of need.
Who or what inspired you to pursue family medicine originally?
I loved eliciting and listening to patients’ stories and using these stories to put together pieces of the puzzle to come up with a diagnosis that healed their ailment. Also, being an African American physician has also placed me in a unique position to take care of a minority population with specific needs. The black community’s trust in my services has been very rewarding.
Who or what keeps you going on the hard days?
On hard days, I remember back to the early days of the pandemic. As the numbers of infected were starting to climb and the gravity of the situation was becoming more real, I held a meeting with my staff to let them know that there were going to be some hard times ahead. I told them that there was going to be some uncertainty medically and financially with the practice. I told them that there would be a possibility that anyone could walk in and possibly infect us, and I didn’t blame them if they wanted to take a leave of absence especially since they all had families. Rather than shying away, they repeated a meme that was floating around at the time; “we ride at dawn.” My staff has been there through it all, even with the reduced hours and shiftwork to keep overhead down. They have been there for our patients and that makes me proud. We did have patients get sick from COVID, and when they did, we called every day to make sure they recovered. We did have one patient pass away from COVID, which tore a hole in our hearts. But every day, I am reminded by my staff and science that this pandemic will end.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I really feel for my colleagues in the hospitals working day in and day out taking care of the sickest of the sick. I worry about our medical community who are getting exposed, getting sick, and those who are dying. I am very moved by all the support shown to our physicians online and around the world. My hope is that when this is all over, everyone from the top levels of government to Medicare and commercial insurances know the sacrifices that we physicians have made for our country when it needed us so when we come to the negotiating table limping from our battle wounds, we physicians will be stronger than ever and we will get the respect we deserve.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at email@example.com or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.