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Stay connected with your health care team

Stay connected with your health care team

  • Updated

Now more than ever it is important to stay connected with your health care team.

With the onset of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders, many have hunkered down into our homes seeking little engagement usual activities. In an effort to reduce personal risk of contact with infections and to decrease the number of visits to providers and emergency rooms people have decreased their overall use of health care services.

Many practices have limited office hours and transitioned to telehealth through video and phone visits. This can be confusing and may send a message that discourages people from connecting with their health care team until the pandemic is over.

On the contrary, in these times of rapidly changing health directives, it is critical that individuals and families continue to access care through their primary care and specialty providers. Now more than ever these are the practitioners that can guide how to manage your health including addressing new and chronic symptoms.

Outpatient offices, emergency rooms and hospitals are safe places to receive care from your health care team. Clinical practices and hospitals have always used methodic and comprehensive cleaning practices to keep offices and exam rooms clean.

Now, additional guidance on wearing masks, checking temperatures and spacing of appointments prevent spread of infection among people in health care offices. Provider's offices, hospitals and emergency rooms have added steps to ensure any individual with signs contagious infection is isolated from other patients. All staff are screened before starting shifts to avoid spread of illness.

Many practices have shifted how they provide care by offering more phone and video visits. This is an opportunity to take care of simple problems and avoid unnecessary face-to-face visits. However, face-to-face visits are still necessary.

Clinical practices, emergency rooms and hospitals are safe and capable places to receive medical excellent care and health care services. For children and adults face-to-face visit may be needed to address new or developing symptoms, follow up chronic conditions or to avoid illness with preventive visits like well-child exams.

Many practices request a phone or video visit with a nurse or medical provider to determine if the condition requires an in-person visit. In non-emergent cases, an in person office visit also allows for a more complete exam than is available in a telehealth visit.

A condition that is severe or rapidly changing may warrant a visit to the emergency room where the clinical team can offer a complete examination and may order laboratory tests or imaging. Delaying care for severe or rapidly changing symptoms can have dire results.

In-person visits, permit your health care team to ensure that preventive treatments like vaccines for children and adults as well as cancer screening for adults can stay current. While we use social distancing to avoid the coronavirus, we must continue to prevent other infections such as measles, whooping cough and meningitis.

Infants, toddlers and young children must continue to see their primary care providers for routine exams and immunization visits. Adults must remain up to date on screening exams such as mammograms, PAP smears and colon cancer tests to avoid delays in diagnosis that can limit treatment options.

Current cancer diagnosis modeling predicts delays in screening exams due to COVID-19 will result significant delays in diagnosis for tens of thousands of cancer cases. This subsequently delays treatment and may impact ultimate outcomes.

Now more than ever individuals and families must stay connected with their health care teams to stay up to date on medical advice related to COVID-19 and stay current on your routine and preventive health care. Napa medical practices are open and safe for services. Please contact your health care team to ensure that you and your family are up date with your care.

Dr. Colleen Townsend

Napa County Medical Society President-Elect

Regional Medical Director – Partnership HealthPlan of California

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