Don’t Delay In Seeking Help For Medical Conditions During COVID-19
April 22, 2020, MORRIS, IL – Along with the coronavirus pandemic, something worries Dr. Jaynee Pendergast even more. Her concern is for those who may be putting aside other illnesses and chronic conditions while COVID-19 runs its course.
However, for those who have a chronic illness, Dr. Pendergast advises making sure you don’t let it backslide. And if you are experiencing any new health concerns, she says don’t wait to contact your provider.
“We are learning to shelter in place and maintain appropriate social distancing,” says Dr. Pendergast, a board-certified family medicine physician with Morris Hospital & Healthcare Center. “But some fear the risk of getting the coronavirus is worse than the risk of going to the office to treat their condition.”
Dr. Pendergast knew this might be the case when the virus began circulating. She is one of the health care professionals at Morris Hospital who worked to set up the telemedicine video appointments that the hospital’s providers are now using.
“My concern was that we needed to establish a process that would allow us to continue to be able treat our patients, while reducing the risk of spread and limiting in-person visits,” she says.
Those who have chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD and kidney disease, as well as those who are taking medication for any chronic condition, need to maintain regular medical care, she says. If they lapse in their health care or medications, Pendergast says, the consequences to their health could be serious and long-term.
Not properly managing a chronic condition can also make one more susceptible to the coronavirus, Dr. Pendergast says.
“We want our patients to follow up with their providers as they usually do so we can make sure chronic conditions remain stable,” she says. “It is extremely important for us to continue to treat our patients so they can stay healthy and can stay home safely.”
According to Dr. Pendergast, Morris Hospital providers are seeing most of their patients through the telemedicine video program.
Patients are virtually connected with their provider through the Cisco WebEx Video Conference app, meaning anyone who has a computer, laptop or cell phone with internet service has the ability to conduct a virtual office visit with their Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers providers. WebEx is a HIPAA verified program that has security features assuring patient information is always safe.
“When it’s time for an appointment,” Dr. Pendergast explains, “I ‘admit’ the patient to my virtual office on the computer. They are up on my screen, I am up on their screen, and we can see each other and talk with each other. We’re able to do an ‘office visit’ with the patient sitting at their house and me in my office.”
If video capability is not an option for patients, Dr. Pendergast still advises the patient to call the office.
“We want to continue to provide excellent care in an appropriate and safe manner to our patients during this unprecedented time,” Dr. Pendergast says.
Some patients are still seen for an in person visit, depending on the physician’s recommendation, and when needed to be seen in the office, we take appropriate safety measures to ensure both the patient and the office staff are protected from any potential exposure, says Dr. Pendergast.
Those who have acute health problems that arise may call their primary care provider, visit Morris Hospital’s Convenient Care or Immediate Care locations, or, for life threatening matters, call 9-1-1 or go to the Emergency Department.
Additional information about telemedicine at Morris Hospital is available at morrishospital.org/telemedicine.