Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Mount Airy plastic surgeon is providing emergency services to help some of the traffic flow and taking patients into his own hands, literally.
Dr. Guy Cappuccino wanted to find a way to help after his practice, Guy Cappuccino, M.D. Plastic and Reconstuctive Surgey, died down heavily since most of it is elective surgery. Before the pandemic, Cappuccino’s practice focused on cosmetic surgery of the face and body along with non-invasive procedures like Botox.
“After March 24, all elective surgeries and procedures were postponed in Maryland. So, the majority of my practice is elective, so I pretty much had to shut down operations,” said Cappuccino. “I felt pretty useless and I really wanted to be able to help, but as a plastic surgeon, there just isn’t a whole lot that I can do in a pandemic like this.”
It was then that Cappuccino said that he got the idea to offer his services to prevent people from going to the emergency room for things such as cuts, bruises, lacerations or broken bones as a way of preventing exposure to the COVID-19 virus, especially with children and the elderly.
Cappuccino posted on Facebook and sent an email blast to inform the public and he’s gotten a positive response from patients since then.
“It’s been great,” said Cappuccino. “People will often just text me and I’ll say send me a picture, tell me what happened and we can meet them at the office, usually within a half-an-hour, in and out. It’s just me, there’s nobody there. We keep everybody clean and safe and happy and it’s worked out to be a really nice situation. I’ve met a lot of really nice people and hopefully help keep people safe.”
What Cappuccino is doing has mainly been word of mouth.
Cappuccino set up a system where people can text his office number and it will go to his cell phone so he can respond back to them immediately without delay. He can see them fairly quickly since he only lives 10 minutes from the office.
Lyndsay Kuzmak, a dentist and mother of four, has seen Cappuccino’s work first hand. Cappuccino helped her 5-year-old son, Jonathan.
According to Kuzmak, on April 19, her husband made a homemade sliding board with a plastic slide from outside going from a sofa to a chair in their living room. She had just finished saying, “This isn’t going to end well,” when her Jonathan careened off the homemade sliding board and hit his head on the ottoman.
Being in the medical profession, after cleaning it, she saw that it was going to need stitches. She only thought about doing it herself for about two seconds before deciding against it.
“Once it goes past the lips, that’s where my expertise ends,” said Kuzmak.
Even still, she was apprehensive about going to an emergency room in the middle of the pandemic. She remembered someone telling her about Cappuccino and what he was doing, so she gave him a call and met him at his office with Jonathan.
“I’m so grateful to him that he could see [Jonathan] right away. I mean, it was probably 4 or 5 p.m. Sunday evening,” said Kuzmak. “So kudos to him for being a great doctor in general and for seeing someone on a a Sunday evening who isn’t even a patient of record.”
Not only did Cappuccino see Kuzmak’s son on a Sunday evening, he left the birthday party of one of his own four children to help.
“It was my son’s birthday and we took a little break in the middle of the party; we had dinner and cake,” said Cappuccino. “I said, ‘We’ll take a little break and then we’ll come back and open presents later.”
Cappuccino said the whole thing only took about an hour.
According to Kuzmak, Cappuccino was very good with keeping her son calm and let him watch Netflix while he was getting stitched up.
“I do everything I can to put every patient at ease because I know how intimidating and scary it is, because there’s something sharp involved,” said Cappuccino. “Whenever I have young patients, especially, first thing I do is bring them in, I usually sit them down, I let them play with the power chair themselves and go up and down, and let them get a comfortable position. Then, I have a giant 50-inch TV right in front of the chair and I have Netflix and Hulu.”
Kids get to watch whatever their favorite show is and they’re relaxed and distracted, according to Cappuccino.
Jonathan’s wound has healed nicely, according to Kuzmak.
Even though his practice has basically been shut down, he still has been able to do a lot of remote consultations and will have them send photographs ahead of time, all through his HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance server.
Aside from the remote consultations, Cappuccino’s practice has changed in multiple other ways since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we usually do things like clean trays and clean exam tables and chairs, now we sort of took that to the next level,” said Cappuccino. “We would sanitize any contact surface, for example, any doorknob, any handle, any light switch, even the hand sanitizer, the counter tops, the keyboard the pens patients would use if they need to write something down.”
Cappuccino doesn’t accept all insurances but in the case that he doesn’t accept someone’s insurance, he finds out what the minimum charge for that procedure is at an emergency room is and charges them that.
“It might be a quarter of what I normally would get paid,” he said, “but I just accept whatever that reduced payment is so that they wouldn’t actually be charged anything more than if they went to the hospital.”
Cappuccino’s office is located at 1304 S. Main Street. The office number is 301-829-4110.