HORNELL, NEW YORK (WETM-TV)- In an effort to protect patients and staff from potential COVID-19 exposure, UR Medicine/St. James primary care, orthopaedics, podiatry, and specialty care offices are now offering telehealth appointments to some patients in lieu of in-person visits.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, providers are discouraging people from traveling to a medical office unless absolutely necessary, since the virus transfers easily from person to person.
With the canceling of most officevisits, alternative care such as telephone and video consults are viable options for patients who do not need to be seen in person.
“Using telehealth supports our community-wide effort to reduce infection risk through social distancing, while freeing up capacity and resources to care for patients who are acutely ill,” said Bilal Ahmed, M.D., St. James Hospital chief medical officer.
He said St. James is offering telehealth on a case-by-case basis, to ensure a patient’s medical condition doesn’t worsen before they can be seen in person.
“Telehealth was originally developed to serve patients in remote locations, but at a time like this it helps all patients get the care they need more quickly, without danger of contracting the virus,” he said. “Our providers embrace it because they can more easily monitor a patient’s ongoing concerns, especially with the high number of COVID-19 cases in our area.”
Patient information is transmitted securely through the UR Medicine portal.
Telehealth visits are covered by most insurances, and associated copays are being waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been using the technology on a limited basis but the demand has recently intensified,” said Dr. Ahmed. “We’re excited to expand access to telehealth services at this critical time, and expect it will become more commonplace in the future.”
In addition, Dr. Ahmed noted that providers in those outpatientoffices are temporarily staggering their schedules to minimize exposure, while continuing to cover all acute patient needs and messages.
Non-clinical staff are also working remotely as much as possible.
Primary care patients may call (607) 385-3700; orthopaedics and podiatry patients may call (607) 385-3740; and specialty care patients may call (607) 385-3820 to schedule an appointment.