We are offering telehealth visits to all patients. If you have an appointment on the schedule, we will be converting it to a telehealth visit or rescheduling if necessary. My staff will be calling you to get you online with the software that can be used on your phone, tablet or PC. This link will explain how you can join a session: https://hub.securevideo.com/Knowledge/Details/248. Joining is by invitation only so if you need to reach us, please use the usual methods of calling or sending messages via the portal.
We remain able to safely see well patients in the mornings in our separate exam rooms. Each person is carefully screened for risks of possibly carrying the virus and all persons visiting are required to wear masks and decontaminate hands upon arrival. To preserve supplies, we encourage you to bring your own mask. Each room is appropriately disinfected between patients. We continue to reserve the afternoons to see any sick patients following our sick protocol of calling in first and coming in only as directed, through an alternative entrance and into a separate exam room not used at all for well-patient visits, thus putting no-one at risk.
So whether you are well or sick, we are open for business and look forward to seeing you.
These telehealth visits will be billed as regular office visits. All insurance companies are now covering telehealth visits and are waiving co-pays only for visits related to respiratory symptoms and any testing related to COVID-19 and that once you are positive for COVID-19, all copays and deductibles apply. Regular copays and deductibles apply to all other telehealth visits. Please check with your insurance company for details.
In order to protect hospital staff and supplies, it remains important that you do not run to the urgent care centers or the emergency room with just mild symptoms. They are not testing mild cases at this time. They continue to have strict criteria and require you or me to call before you come so their doctors can screen you. This will hopefully change within the next week as these systems all ramp up their testing capabilities.
I am be able to do testing again, but supplies are still limited and so testing of all ill persons is not possible. While testing is important to encourage people to comply with isolation and to isolate those who are infected, please know that testing would not change the medical management of cases which at this point is still supportive. We don't as yet have medications to treat it. Testing of non-ill persons is not recommended.
Flatten the Curve: I continue to urge everyone to behave responsibly to help slow down the spread of this virus. As of today, 95-98% of all active cases in the world are mild and about 2-5% are serious or critical. The problem is that people are all becoming ill at the same time and overwhelming the healthcare systems. For this reason, everyone, young and old needs to do their part in slowing down the spread of the virus.
Isolation (for those with symptoms): If you are only mildly sick, please stay home, don't go to work, don't go to the urgent care or the emergency room. Do isolate yourself at home, in your own room, away from your family members who are not sick. You should do this for 10 days from the start of your symptoms or 3 days after the fever has gone (without taking any fever-reducing medications), whichever is LATER. If you are not sure, please call me. How do I isolate with small children?
Quarentine (for those who are close contacts of people who have symptoms): This virus spreads 2-14 days before you have symptoms. Therefore, all close contacts of people who have cough, fever, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, will need to quarantine themselves. What does quarentine mean? It means, you cannot go out in the public, at all unless your doctor is able to clearly identify another cause, e.g. a strep throat. Stay at home, away from your sick contact who may be isolated in a single room in the house. You must do this for 14 days after your last close contact with the ill person. If contact happens again, then the 14 days starts over. Being quarantined, you can still go outside of your house in your yard and for walks or bike rides, but don't interact with others. Please, don't go to the store "just for one thing" or the pharmacy to pick up anything. Don't drive your car because you will eventually have to get gas and you shouldn't. Please, have someone not on quarentine get the things you need for you and drop it off on your doorstep. Some neighborhoods are setting up local services whereby neighbors will help. Look to your local apps or Facebook groups for these.
High risk people: For those of you who are at high risk of complications from this virus you must take care to avoid contact with anyone who is ill. High risk people include those over the age of 65, those with diabetes, chronic heart disease, and chronic lung disease. You can read here how you can protect yourselves: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html. You should stay home, avoid going out as much as possible, avoid any public gatherings and learn how to order food and medication deliveries online or have well family members do it for you. Some pharmacies provide delivery services. You can still go out in your yard or for walks, just avoid being around others.
Travel: At this point, no one should be traveling unless absolutely essential and then should quarentine themselves for 14 days in the new location upon arrival.
For more information, go to coronavirus.gov or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html Working together, we can slow the spread of this virus so that hour hospital systems can take care of everyone.