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Dr. Parker: Our clinics are safe and our providers are ready to care for you

We recently visited with Dr. Bryn Parker, a family practice physician obstetrician at Gritman Medical Center | Moscow Family Medicine, about the importance of maintaining your relationship with your provider, even during the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Parker is the immediate past chief of medical staff.

Q: Wouldn’t it be safer to stay at home and put off seeing my doctor during the COVID-19 crisis?

A: We are committed to keeping all of our patients healthy, but at the same time I am aware that due to concerns about COVID-19, many of my patients are not getting the care they need and becoming more and more ill. I would love all patients to reach out to their providers if they have health concerns, and we will help a person decide whether a telemedicine visit would be a good way to address the concern, or if the patient would be best taken care of by an in-person visit.

Telemedicine works wonderfully for many problems, such as following up on concerns that have been previously diagnosed and discussed, and if a patient is concerned about coming to our clinic in person, telemedicine is always a good starting point. However, sometimes there is a problem, like sudden onset abdominal pain, chest, pain, trouble breathing or dizziness, that I really need vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, as well as the ability to have an in-person exam to determine what is going on and take excellent care of the patient. In these circumstances, Moscow Family Medicine is a safe place to be seen given all of the precautions we have implemented. It is quite safe to come in and get the care needed to keep our patients safe

Q: As a patient, is it really safe to go to Gritman or MFM?

A: Yes. We have been very proactive about creating a safe environment for patients at the clinics and hospital, including screening all people who enter for symptoms of COVID-19 and not permitting entrance at the front door if there are COVID-like illness or respiratory symptoms. We have also eliminated waiting in waiting rooms (patients are brought straight back to the room they will see providers in) and our lobbies have all been restructured for appropriate social distancing. We are providing patients with masks, and all nurses and providers are wearing masks. We are also diligently and frequently cleaning all surfaces and patient and exam rooms.

Q: Can I still get great care through a telemedicine visit?

A: More than half of my visits with patients are being done via telemedicine, and I have really been astounded how comprehensive it has been for many of my patients, and patients seem to love it. They really appreciate being able to avoid coming into public in the current times.

Q: Can all visits be done through telemedicine?

A: No. Medical problems that require an exam or checking vital signs, such as severe abdominal pain, chest pain or rashes are often best seen in person. However, if we start a visit via telemedicine and it seems like a patient would be best cared for in person, I simply ask the patient to come into the clinic that same day to be evaluated in person. I am very willing to try most visits via telemedicine, with the caveat that I might ask a patient to come in if it seems like their medical concern cannot be addressed safely or well via telemedicine. However, I have been surprised how many conditions can be seen effectively via telehealth. 

Q: Do I have to be good with computers to use telemedicine?

A: No. It is so easy! I essentially send my patients a text link, they select the link, and we are connected via audio and video! For patients without phones or computers with cameras, we are able to do telemedicine just via the telephone. I think this expansion of being able to offer telemedicine will be here to stay – patients appreciate the convenience so much. I have many patients who live miles away, from Bovill to Orofino. It just makes sense that if a visit can be done via telemedicine that we should be offering it, as it saves so much travel.

Q: How quickly are you able to see most patients?

A: I am seeing my patients often the same day, but certainly within 2-3 office days. The waits that were present prior to COVID-19 times have evaporated, as we are not seeing all of our wellness physicals at this time. 

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