“I have a problem, but I’m scared to go to my doctor’s office. What can I do?”
With coronavirus widespread and social distancing an important part of flattening the curve, how do you safely manage your non-corona medical needs? There are ways to talk to your physician and receive medical care during the coronavirus pandemic without putting yourself or others at risk. Doctors at the Tarrant County Medical Society recommend that you use some of the technologies that we rely on every day—the phone and the internet.
Call your doctor to discuss your problem and learn your options; many issues can be handled easily over the phone. Some doctors are also now able to offer virtual visits, which means you can be evaluated from the safety of your own home. “By now most physicians offer a Telehealth option for patients,” says Omar Selod, DO, of Fort Worth PMR. “Physicians can reach out to patients and conduct new evaluations or follow up visits by connecting through a smart phone, iPad, laptop, or desktop. I have started using this and patients have had a positive response so far. We are able to still offer needed care for our patients though this process…by offering Telehealth services or in office visits for those in severe pain, we can hopefully address and resolve a problem and prevent patients from going to the emergency rooms, subsequently helping relieve stress on our local hospitals.”
Morvarid Rezaie, DO, of Fort Worth Primary Care, says that her practice has seen an increase in phone and video visits, both with established patients and those looking to establish themselves with a primary care physician. While some annual visits are being postponed, most sick visits and new patient visits can be held virtually. Dr. Rezaie is trying to get the word out; she has posted videos on her practice’s Facebook page promoting this service. Even with this advancement in technology, Dr. Rezaie emphasizes that in-person visits are still available for those who cannot access the necessary technology or just prefer an in-person visit.
Specialists are also able to utilize technology. Melanie Lagomichos, DO, of HSC Obstetrics and Gynecology, says that they are able to have virtual appointments for most visits. Even some prenatal visits can be held virtually; however, the office is still open for many prenatal visits as well as urgent gynecological visits such as biopsies.
Even surgeons such as Danielle LeBlanc, MD, of Le Blanc Plastic Surgery, are able to continue serving their patients. “Non-urgent medical care is still happening every day. It just isn’t happening the way it normally does with face-to-face medical visits,” says Dr. LeBlanc. “I have been virtually seeing patients for over two weeks now, and many are so grateful for my availability and to be able to talk to me in this way. While I cannot physically examine them, patients are able to offer valuable information and give enough feedback for me to make medical decisions.”
Though these are good options, some problems require an in-person visit to your doctor’s office. Even if that is the case, do not hesitate to seek care. Physicians and their healthcare teams are working hard to use safe procedures that ensure you can maintain social distancing and minimize your risk of exposure throughout your visit. The same can be done at urgent care clinics, imaging centers, and blood drawing stations.
It is critical is that you do not ignore your medical problems or concerns during the pandemic due to a fear of being exposed to the coronavirus. Your Tarrant County doctors are committed to your health and wellbeing and will not hesitate to find a way to deliver your care. “Patients in Tarrant County need to know we are still here for them,” continues Dr. Selod. “Since this Covid-19 crisis began I have found myself communicating more than ever with my physician colleagues, trying to figure out ways to continue to serve our patients. The collegiality amongst Tarrant County physicians is at an all-time high right now. We are here to serve our community and support our healthcare partners including nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, staff, and other physician colleagues. We will get through this. We are here for you.”