Paula Halama, an advanced practice nurse certified in family practice at Gritman’s Kendrick Family Care, and Skyler Worthington, a physician assistant certified in family practice at Gritman’s Potlatch Family Care, discuss how Gritman and its clinics, including our locations in Kendrick, Potlatch and Troy, and Moscow Family Medicine, are continuing to provide safe and compassionate care during the COVID-19 emergency.
Q: Considering there’s a pandemic, wouldn’t I be better off not going to the hospital or clinic for care?
Skyler: No. It is extremely important for patients not to put off care during this time. Putting off needed health care can have long-term consequences. We are currently doing everything we can to keep patients as safe and healthy as possible, and we understand there is a fine balance of keeping the community healthy, social distancing and working with ever-changing recommendations. Our goal is to serve our patients and community, not only to help prevent poor outcomes during this pandemic but also after.
Paula: There is no reason not to feel safe in this current time coming into the clinic. In our office, we all are wearing masks, sanitizing and using good hand washing; we ask our patients to do the same. We screen patients before making inpatient appointments.
Q: What options do I have if I still don’t want to or can’t make it into the clinic?
Paula: We can do almost any kind of visit with telemedicine. So much of our information for a diagnosis comes from a very thorough history. This work can easily be done virtually and sometimes even better; I find that my patients are more relaxed at home and I get a better history.
I think telemedicine is going to change health care delivery, especially in rural areas. I have patients with transportation issues who can now make their appointment. I have patients with childcare issues who can now make appointments. I’ve had patients not be able to come in due to work in the past. Now someone can take 20 minutes from work and “be seen.” I think this is going to lower some barriers to care.
Skyler: We are seeing all types via telemedicine. It is very easy for patients – all it really takes, in most cases, is being able to click on a link on your phone or computer and you are connected with the office and a provider.
We can see and treat patients for many conditions, like cough, upper respiratory infections, sinus problems, allergies, rash, low back pain, behavioral health and, depending on the patient, diabetes and hypertension. People with asthma, COPD, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at greater risks for complications from COVID-19 and should be getting these under the best control possible. Currently, we have low numbers of COVID in the community and now is the time to have these health concerns “tuned up” and checked to make sure they are well controlled.
Q: Have your patients been pleased with their telemedicine experiences?
Paula: My patients have loved telemedicine.
Skyler: The people who have been seen via telemedicine have been very happy. They appreciate the ease of connecting and the quality of video. Some are very high-risk populations and are glad there are alternatives to coming into the clinic.
Q: What kind of wait times can I expect before seeing my provider?
Skyler: Most of the time, we can see a patient the same day, and almost always in one or two days. The health care system prior to this pandemic was already stretched more than anyone would like. Previously, people were being scheduled months out to have testing and to see specialists. If everyone waits to seek care this can lead to longer waiting times, which can lead to missed or delayed diagnosis and poor outcomes.
Schedule an in-person or telemedicine appointment today:
- Moscow Family Medicine (Downtown, Westside and QuickCARE): 208-882-2011
- Vandal Health: 208-885-6693
- Internal Medicine: 208-883-1152
- Kendrick Family Care: 208-289-3841
- Potlatch Family Care: 208-875-2380
- Troy Clinic: 208-835-5550
Stay up to date on the latest development and most trusted information at gritman.org/coronavirus.