KU Cares: Jayhawks on the Front Lines - Dr. Robbie Harriford
Robbie Harriford competed for the Kansas track and field team from 1999-2003. Harriford competed in the sprints for the Jayhawks, where she set several Kansas top-10 performances, and she still is the No. 9 performer in the 200 meters and the No. 10 performer in the 60 meters indoors. Harriford was also part of the Kansas women’s 4×400 meter relay team that placed 17th at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championship. Now, Harriford works as a family medicine physician at Samuel Rodgers in Kansas City, Missouri. Harriford is a 2003 graduate with a major in Microbiology and received her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Kansas School of Medicine in 2015. Harriford has one daughter, Emma, and resides in Kansas City.
Q: What have the past few weeks been like for you during this pandemic?
CRAZINESS!!! So many emotional ups and downs that I have experienced but have seen others experience as well!
Q: How have things changed in your own work and community?
I currently work for a clinic that serves the under-served/under-insured/uninsured here in Kansas City called Samuel Rodgers. We have temporarily closed our satellite clinics and are now funneling our patients through our main clinic. We have a rotating provider schedule as well. What I love is that we are really listening to the needs of our community and now offer telemedicine as well as community drive through testing in additional to all the other amazing services we have always offered.
Q: What has changed for you in your role?
Luckily, my role, in general, has not changed. But, personally, I am trying to be more of a leader to help my clinic run smoothly given all the changes we have had to make.
Q: How has the situation affected the way you treat patients?
I am known to have a very outgoing personality and am empathetic with my patients. Although this hasn’t changed, I am having to change how I interact with my patients. I am no longer able to physically console a mom who has had a miscarriage or high five a woman on a negative mammogram. It can make our visits seem more sterile, which I dislike.
Q: What does a typical work day look like for you right now? How has it changed?
Our schedule has changed drastically: Rather than a daily clinic, I am now in clinic one week followed by a week of telemedicine, which is new for us. It’s a great opportunity to continue to care for our patients but also to help in the mitigation of COVID. I miss physically being with patients on a daily basis!!
Q: What has been the most challenging thing for you during this time?
My ex-husband and I have made the decision to have our 14-year-old daughter stay with him here in KC indefinitely since my exposure risk is so high. I hate not being able to hug her and see her daily but we do FaceTime quite a bit and we’ve started doing drop-ins that are appropriately socially distant (masks included!).
Q: What positives have you been able to experience during the pandemic?
I have learned to really appreciate the simple things in life. I’ve been writing cards to friends, taking time to exercise/meditate for my physical/mental well-being. I also understand the importance of quality time now.
Q: How have you or someone you know been affected by the pandemic?
We have ALL been affected in some way-directly and/or indirectly. I know people who are out of work, people who are now having to home school their children, and people on the front line.
Q: How do you spend your time when you are not working?
I am big on working out and doing yoga in my spare time. I wish I could say I could leave work at work, but I am constantly reading up on COVID-19 and taking it all in on CNN and BBC. I spend time with my boyfriend and spend time with my daughter and parents via FaceTime/phone calls.
Q: What are some ways the public can help those that are working on the front line?
Follow the recommendations!! Stay at home!! Wash your hands! Wear a mask if you have to leave the house!
Q: What message or advice would you give during these times?
We are all adjusting to this new way of life … remember to take of yourself physically but also mentally and emotionally.