With the appearance of the novel coronavirus at the end of 2019, daily life began to change for many people around the globe. For some communities, these changes were gradual, but for others, they were more rapid. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continued to spread, and the COVID-19 pandemic landed on our shores, it completely disrupted our daily routines. The current pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of life for many Americans, including access to medical care. Unfortunately, many Americans have become ill with a COVID-19 infection, and many more may become ill in the future.
For you and your loved ones, access to quality health care is critical, now more than ever. At Lompoc Health, we are creating innovative solutions to the healthcare challenges that have been introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most exciting changes for our healthcare system is the introduction of our new TeleVisits platform.
Read on to learn more about accessing care at Lompoc Health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to find out why our new TeleVisits services may be a good option for you during this uncertain time.
What to Do If You Are Feeling Sick
Even though you are likely sheltering in place and not interacting with the world at large, it is still essential to maintain a relationship with your healthcare provider. The pandemic brings new questions about how to go about communicating with your healthcare provider, especially if you develop symptoms of the COVID-19 illness.
According to the CDC, the most common presenting symptoms of a COVID-19 infection include:
Shortness of breath
Loss of taste or smell
These symptoms tend to occur 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from mild to severe.
If you have any of the above symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Lompoc Health recommends that you first contact your doctor’s office before going to any healthcare site, in order to decrease the potential of transmitting your illness to others.
When you contact your doctor’s office, you may be recommended to do a TeleVisit, rather than come into the physical medical office for evaluation. This is an easy, convenient, and safe way to have an appointment with your medical provider from the comfort of your own home.
How Does a TeleVisit Work?
In order to conduct a TeleVisit with your healthcare provider, you will need to have access to some form of communication technology. This can be either a tablet, a smartphone, or a computer. If you need assistance setting-up your technology, you can inquire about getting help from a home health agency when you call to make your TeleVisit appointment.
On the TeleVisit site, Lompoc Health has a list of available providers from a diverse range of medical specialties who are able to conduct virtual visits. Virtual visits can address many acute medical conditions, such as viral conditions, allergies, asthma, coughs, eye infections, urinary tract infections, rashes, fever, or ear infections.
During the TeleVisit, your medical provider will ask you a series of questions about your illness and may ask to see specific areas of your body to help with making a diagnosis, such as looking in your mouth, or at a rash. If you have any home health equipment available, such as a thermometer, glucose monitor, or blood pressure cuff, your healthcare provider may request further information using some objective measurements from these devices.
TeleVisits typically last about 15 minutes, and if one of our telemedicine providers prescribes you a medication, they can send it directly to a pharmacy where you can easily swing by and pick it up. In addition to sick visits, you can use our telemedicine services for quick prescription renewals or even nutritional consults.
Call Lompoc Health at the number provided on our TeleVisit site to get set up with a telemedicine consult today.
Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Your Symptoms During a Pandemic
A COVID-19 infection can manifest in many different ways. Every day we learn more information about the virus and the various ways in which people are getting sick. If you begin to have symptoms of illness, it is important not to sweep them under the rug and hope that they pass. It may be tempting to dismiss your symptoms, especially with the difficulties of getting in to see a healthcare provider, but disregarding symptoms early on can lead to more significant problems later.
If you are experiencing symptoms that you think may be related to a COVID-19 infection or otherwise, don’t sit with the problem and wait for it to get worse. With our TeleVisit program, you can quickly speak with a Lompoc Health provider to discuss your symptoms and potentially receive a diagnosis and treatment plan, all without even having to leave your home.
Why It’s Important to Maintain Your Health During a Pandemic
Amid a pandemic, it’s sometimes easy to forget there is a multitude of other health conditions that affect people on a daily basis. It is crucial to stay on top of managing any other health conditions that you may have, especially if you have a medical condition that may predispose you to a worse outcome should you contract a COVID-19 infection.
For people who struggle with chronic medical conditions, COVID-19 illness can come on more quickly, and it can be more ferocious. The people who are most vulnerable to a more severe COVID-19 infection include those with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other conditions that suppress the immune system.
If you fall into one of these health groups, it is imperative that you continue taking your daily medications precisely as they have been prescribed by your medical provider. Many leading medical organizations have indicated that staying on top of your health is the best way to prevent the complications that can come from developing a novel coronavirus infection on top of your chronic illness.
Staying on top of your health also means staying on track with your medications. Due to many factors—such as the riskiness of venturing outside of the home, financial considerations, or the lack of ability to safely see your medical provider—it may be tempting to skip a few doses of your medication in order to stretch out a prescription bottle during this lockdown period. However, stretching out your medications in this way can be highly counterproductive. Our medical providers at Lompoc Health are able to assist with any medication refills or medication adjustment needs that you may have, and this can be accomplished easily via a TeleVisit appointment.
When Delaying Care Can Be Dangerous
Emergencies and urgent health situations happen daily, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, we do not have control over when we experience a medical crisis. If you are experiencing an acute medical condition, it can be dangerous to sit at home and wait it out. Often, medical conditions that come on suddenly can worsen suddenly as well.
One of the reasons why it can be perilous to delay medical care in urgent situations is because, without a medical evaluation, there is no way to determine the exact problem. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, there are many possible reasons for your symptoms, ranging from food poisoning or a COVID-19 infection to a surgical emergency such as a bowel obstruction or an infected appendix. If you wait at home to see which way your symptoms are going, you run the risk of a severe outcome such as an intestinal perforation, which can cause you to become very ill, perhaps even fatally so. If you think that your condition warrants immediate medical attention, seek help either by calling your doctor’s office or calling 911.
Lompoc Health Offers Options for Immediate Care
Even though we have expanded access to health care with our telemedicine service, it is essential to know that you still can and should use our essential emergency healthcare services, if necessary.
If you originally scheduled a TeleVisit and one of our healthcare providers believes you may be better served in our Urgent Care facility, they will make sure to direct you there. Our Urgent Care is open every day from 9 am to 9 pm, and the medical providers at our Urgent Care center can help with medical problems that are more difficult to manage over a virtual visit. These medical conditions include minor broken bones, allergic reactions, minor burns, sprains, headaches, or minor cuts. To assist with making diagnoses and treatment plans, the Urgent Care has a laboratory on-site, as well as an X-ray machine.
Sometimes it can be tricky to figure out whether your acute health condition warrants a visit to the Urgent Care or the Emergency Room. In general, if you believe your health condition may be life-threatening, it is better to error on the side of caution and go to the emergency room for evaluation. The following symptoms could represent life-threatening conditions:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Severe headache
- Loss of vision
- Numbness or weakness
- Throat or tongue swelling
- Major bleeding
- Severe trauma
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room. If you are unsure about the best place to receive urgent attention to your medical condition, you can read more here about the differences between the care provided in Lompoc Health’s Emergency Department and Urgent Care.