Monday, June 1, 2020

My Cousin Vinnie is not Smarter Than a Neurosurgeon

My Cousin Vinnie, the suburban real estate lawyer, joined the family on one of those video conference calls where everyone shows up in a “Hollywood Squares” box, but only one person can speak at a time. It had been quite a while since the family had spent much time with one another, and it was good to catch up.

Vinnie, it turns out, had experienced some serious back problems, which had prevented him from even working from home for over a week.

One of the down sides of Hollywood Squares meetings is that it is hard to cut someone off. Vinnie was very descriptive when explaining the pain and the medical processes. Vinnie said: “I did not get to see my orthopedic surgeon. He has not met patients in person for months. I spoke with him via a ‘Telehealth’ call. I thought it was odd not getting to meet with him, but apparently medical professionals recognize the serious risks of  Covid19  and they are doing everything they can to protect their staffs, their patients and themselves from infection.”

“When I went to get an MRI, I was the only patient in the facility at that time. I was referred to a neurosurgeon, who also did not want to meet me in person. I had a video call with the neurosurgeon, who reviewed the MRI with me and prescribed physical therapy. Even my follow- up visit in late June will be via ‘Telehealth’”. 

“Then it occurred to me. Why would I contemplate opening my office back up to the public?  If two of the most respected surgeons in Boston are not meeting with patients who are experiencing debilitating pain, why should we risk the health of our staff people and our respective families through meetings with strangers to discuss boundary line disputes?  I’m certainly not smarter than a neurosurgeon!  I immediately sent a memo to our staff people that the office door would remain locked, and we will continue to work from home with no more than two employees in the office at a time to go through the mail, and pay the bills.”

I had to agree with Vinnie on three points: First, none of us are smarter than a neurosurgeon. Secondly, if medical professionals are not meeting with patients, we also need to appreciate the health risks and continue to confer with clients remotely. Thirdly, with most everyone staying at home, boundary line disputes are becoming more commonplace.

Stay safe.

A former president of REBA, Paul currently serves on the association’s executive committee and co-chairs the long-range planning committee.  He is a partner in the Westford firm of Alphen & Santos, P.C. and concentrates in residential and commercial real estate development, land use regulation, administrative law, real estate transactional practice and title examination .As entertaining as he finds the practice of law, Paul enjoys numerous hobbies, including messing around with his power boats and fulfilling his bucket list of visiting every Major League ballpark.  Paul can be contacted at

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