Dr. Carlos Toro is an internist and rheumatologist, with a master’s degree in Autoimmunity, secretary general of PANLAR and general director of the Reference Center in Osteoporosis, Rheumatology and Dermatology, in Cali, Colombia. He, like many representatives of medicine, will have a space at the PANLAR Congress 2021.
In his case, he will address a topic that is new to all of us, but which we have been dealing with on a daily basis for about a year and a half: Covid-19. He will be part of the Covid and Rheumatology in the Americas session.
"There we will have a conference on what should be done when a patient with rheumatic disease has the virus, and it is not regarding the treatment of covid specifically, but about what we should do with the medications that the patient usually receives for the control of his rheumatic disease," says Dr. Toro.
This session will also discuss vaccines and address the recommendations regarding medications and vaccination, as well as the characteristics of everything that has to do with the post-covid situation, including acute inflammatory syndrome.
The other participation, the doctor explains, is in the Patients' Congress, also with Covid and rheumatic disease. And, additionally, in the opening ceremony as a member of the PANLAR Executive Committee and in the America's Cup with Young PANLAR.
Regarding covid-19 and the information that is generated daily, the PANLAR member maintains that he has had to approach and analyze different sources, "but one has to go, let's say to where the clearest and most robust information is. This has been the fashionable topic for more than a year now, so a lot of information comes out every day and what we have to do is to evaluate the information that is being refined, in the form of guidelines, recommendations by societies or panels of experts", and this is how he has built what he will be presenting at PANLAR 2021.
The information for patients and their colleagues is the same, but he points out, "the way of explaining it and the language should be more accessible to patients and with key messages such as continuing with their treatment for the underlying disease, another intervention goes hand in hand with cases that have already had covid-19 and the suspension of medication depending on the severity and analyzing each case, but in none of the cases should treatment be suspended preventively".
Although it is not a rheumatic disease in its origin, he is aware that this virus, SARS-CoV-2 causing covid-19 "has changed everyone's life and we have to be well informed and on a day-to-day basis it has become the most constant question since about a year ago".
At this point, he also discusses the changes in his work life as a result of the pandemic. "It changed dramatically last year because I had to switch from face-to-face consults to tele consults," he says, adding that, at times, exhaustion sets in.
At the beginning, he says, "there was a lot of fear", however, the medical activity was valued positively, "but after a few months there has been fatigue, both on the part of the professionals and of the patients themselves who no longer want so many tele consults", so that nowadays he works 70% face-to-face and 30% tele consults.
"It is necessary to see some patients face-to-face because even though I have developed skills in tele consults, there are things that only face-to-face interactions can give me," he confesses.
For him, this pandemic, in the midst of everything, has implied a connection with his family. This, considering that the home has become an office, a school, a meeting place, a place to rest and so on. "For me it has been very satisfying to be at home with my wife and children, even though I have been away from other family members. Sharing more time with them has been very, very valuable," he said, making it clear that of course roles change, and some things change, but others are gained as well.
As a member of PANLAR, he acknowledges that virtuality this year implies a certain complexity in the development of the congress. "The academic program must be very attractive, understanding that on the part of the medical community there is already an exhaustion of virtuality, of connections, of the large amount of information that arrives daily. So, it is always a challenge to organize a congress with these characteristics to achieve the interest of the scientific community, however, I am convinced that this congress will be a success because the academic program is complete and quite interesting," he adds.