As most of you likely know at this point, Taylor County has now confirmed 9 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel virus SARS-CoV-2 which originated in China at the end of last year and has spread its way across our globe , creating the most unprecedented pandemic in our lifetime. Today, March 29, 2020, looks a lot different than we imagined it would merely a few weeks ago.
Our country now leads the world by a significant margin in the number of confirmed cases at 142,106 and many leading officials are predicting we will not hit our peak for another couple of weeks.
So what does that mean for you, concerned parents and guardians who have children with mild illnesses and may continue to have anxiety or fear surrounding seeking care for your sick one? First let me remind of you of our two previous blog posts detailing the significant changes that have been made to our offices.
We now offer a sick (Hickory Street) and a well (Buffalo Gap) location. Additionally, we have instituted an EMPTY WAITING ROOM policy. We believe that these two changes serve to GREATLY reduce the risk that you and your children will be exposed to coronavirus while in our offices. Once your child’s room is ready you are called to enter the building from your car where you have been waiting and proceed directly to your room. Rooms are thoroughly cleaned after each patient (sick or well). We have found that these two measures are working quite well, and we are so thankful for all of your patience as we worked into these transitions.
Now that we have confirmed cases, and more importantly, community spread here in Abilene, however, we feel that taking the next step is important. That step will be instituting telemedicine for our practice so lets hit the high points:
What Peds Associates Telemedicine IS:
- A way for you to connect with your provider as deemed appropriate by our staff for minor illnesses or conditions that can SAFELY be done virtually and not in physical contact
- An opportunity for those of you who may still have significant anxiety and stress surrounding coming to see your provider in the office, despite the measures we have already taken to create a safe environment
- An avenue to keep your child from possibly exposing others to her illness, if in fact it is felt that she is safe to be at home and does not require a more thorough examination.
What Peds Associates Telemedicine IS NOT:
- A way to get antibiotics for your child’s cold. We here at Pediatric Associates still believe in an evidence based approach to care. While we are living in unique times, it is still important to practice responsible and evidence based medicine…..for so many reasons
- A way to keep you from having to wait on us. Yes, we know that is everyone’s least favorite thing about our office, and we remain humbled and deeply grateful that you trust us to care for your child.
- It will not be for EVERY “chief complaint” (the medical lingo for “the reason you’re in the office today”)
HOW IT WILL WORK:
- As with the previous changes we have made. First and foremost, we ask for grace and patience. This is new for us too, and we anticipate needing to work out a couple of kinks along the way
- You will call to schedule an appointment for your child as usual. If our front staff or nurses deem telemedicine as an appropriate way to see your provider, the appointment will be scheduled and you will be given a URL to type into your web browser on your computer or in your phone
- Computers MUST HAVE A WEB CAM and you will need to use either GOOGLE CHROME or FIREFOX as your web browser
- Once you have signed in with the URL provided, you will be put in a virtual waiting room
- When your provider comes to you on his or her schedule, contact will be made and the visit will ensue
- Bear in mind that if a telemedicine visit is started and your provider feels that a TRUE PHYSICAL EXAM is necessary, you will be asked to come to the office for evaluation (your insurance WILL NOT be billed twice if this occurs)
EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE TELEMEDICINE VISITS:
- Feeding issues in babies
- Upper respiratory symptoms WITHOUT FEVER
- Med checks
EXAMPLES OF PROBLEMS THAT WILL NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR TELEHEALTH:
- A child with difficulty breathing
- Infants less than 6 months old with fevers
- Significant injuries
Remember, this is a work in progress. We are so thankful for you all and we look forward to seeing you in the office or on a screen. Yes, we’ve said it before but it always is worth hearing again. We are all in this together!