With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to overwhelm healthcare systems, physicians have had to get creative in the ways that they care for patients. Recently, I had a chance to speak with one pioneer, Dr. Bolas, a urologist who is offering the world’s first remote prostate exams.
Over Zoom, I met Dr. Bolas, who was gracious enough to let me shadow his “clinic.” His first patient was Mr. Barry, a glum middle-aged man. I watched as Dr. Bolas instructed Mr. Barry on how to best position himself. “If you could lean over the kitchen counter, lovely granite by the way,” Dr. Bolas murmured. “That’s it. A little bit more to your left.” The rump followed.
Turning back to me, he proudly proclaimed: “Here at Bolas clinic, we deeply value prostate health. But desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“But Dr. Bolas, do you really feel that patients can be adequately instructed on how to perform a proper prostate exam?” I inquired.
“Of course, we walk them through the entire process with very precise, very careful instructions. But as you may know, plenty of organizations don’t recommend routine DREs anymore, so really…” He rubbed his fingers together and winked. Mr. Barry peered back uneasily.
“Alright Mr. Barney,” Dr. Bolas barked. “Now take your pointer finger and jam it right up there. Let ‘er rip!” Turning back to me, Dr. Bolas whispered, “The great thing about this initiative is that it really gives patients more ownership over their health.”
As expletives and grunts of discomfort rang out in the background, Dr. Bolas said more loudly, “Up and around the corner, Mr. Barney. Can you tell me what one o’clock feels like?”
“Bad,” came the strained reply. Dr. Bolas repeated this for each hour, the responses concerningly consistent. “Well Mr. Barney, thank you for bearing with me,” Dr. Bolas said. “I’ll probably get a PSA just to be sure about this. You can go ahead and get dressed now.”
On Mr. Barry’s end, another voice floated in: “Hey Dad, I think we’re almost out of toilet pa – OH GOD.” Dr. Bolas hastily exited the virtual meeting.
Although I am sure this workflow still has a few kinks to work out, I left this meeting feeling that with individuals like Dr. Bolas, the nation will be in good hands despite these difficult times. Truly inspirational.