In recent weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has rapidly created a very new landscape for the practice of medicine. We have been lucky enough to work at an office in the heart of a wonderful community close to where the vast majority of our families live. This has allowed us to deliver medical care in the way best way possible with in-office, face-to-face appointments. The pandemic no longer allows us this luxury. Telemedicine has already been an invaluable tool for people living in remote or inaccessible locations and when access to specialized medical care is scarce for a given geographic region. None of these descriptions have fit our community until now. With the life-saving but restrictive limits on personal contact necessary during this pandemic, we continue to live in close proximity but ironically physically inaccessible to each other. This has prompted us to quickly implement telemedicine services at the office.
How will this work? Can you still call the office? Yes, you can still call the office and expect to talk with our staff. They will still be available to answer questions as in the past. If you are calling with a concern which our nurses think require an appointment, they will, with the assistance of our physicians and nurse practitioner, determine if it’s best to conduct an in-office or telemedicine appointment and schedule you appropriately.
Common problems well-suited for telemedicine evaluation include but are not limited to:
-Symptoms of the eyes, mouth and throat
-Mental health concerns
-Follow up appointments for previously diagnosed chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety)
Viral respiratory infections occur due to many viruses, including coronavirus, and may include symptoms of fever, cough and nasal congestion. If your child has these symptoms, we are able to see them via telemedicine and help you determine how to best care for them, but for the near future, we will not be able to see your child in person. This is necessary for many reasons including: helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus; widespread and persistent limited testing capability still prevents us from being able to test in the office; and a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff to protect them from infection.
Patients scheduled for telemedicine appointments will receive an email with instructions on accessing our HIPAA-compliant virtual waiting rooms and conducting your visit. A telemedicine acknowledgment form must be completed and returned to us along with any notification of change in insurance before we can conduct your visit. This form will be available to download from our website and will also be included in the email sent with the telemedicine appointment instructions. We will bill your insurance for telemedicine visits as usual. Most insurance providers have liberalized coverage of services provided by telemedicine, and many are taking steps to alleviate cost to their members related to coronavirus and telemedicine services. Any questions regarding insurance coverage for telemedicine services should be directed to your insurance provider.
You may have heard us stress the importance of continuity of care. It’s why we make every effort to have your child scheduled with your primary provider at the office for appointments. You get to know us, and we get to know you and your child. Witnessing your child grow and getting to know our patients and families over the years is one of our greatest joys and helps us deliver the best care possible. The coronavirus has made telemedicine services a necessity for our families, and we are committed to providing the continuity for our patients that we think is so vital to quality healthcare. Hopefully this will help avoid the pitfalls of interactions with providers who do not know you, your child, or your child’s medical history as well as we do at Hazel Dell Pediatrics.
Telemedicine is a new endeavor for us, and we all will be adapting some of our usual practices and habits to the unusual circumstances of the time. We hope you will be patient as we learn to navigate some of the new challenges it will pose. We look forward to seeing you more often in person again after we all have come through the worst of the pandemic together, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help you and your children reach that point in time while staying as healthy as possible.