Stethoscope and Telemedicine

Telemedicine and Coronavirus 101

Mar 29, 2020

By: Stephen Vogel

This is certainly a difficult and unprecedented time for us all, whether we look at our community, state, country or world. At Carrboro Family Medical Center we hope to provide information on COVID-19, while continuing our standard of quality care for every patient during this pandemic. Our Carrboro Family Medicine Center team is committed to your health, and will not let any of your medical conditions, acute or chronic, go without help. Hopefully the COVID-19 information provided here can help answer some of your questions in this area.

COVID-19 and Carrboro Family Medicine Center Telemedicine: I am worried that I will get COVID-19 if I go to my doctor’s office. What can I do? Call us and set up a telemedicine visit! We use a safe, easy and secure online process that will send you a link by text-message (SMS) or email. You will then have a video appointment with one of our providers on smartphone, tablet or desktop. If in the event you are asked to visit our office, we take every precaution to ensure everyone’s safety. We can review those safety measures if you call.

Will my insurance plan cover telemedicine visits? It will cover all telemedicine visits except for routine physical-exams. This includes infections, rashes, injuries, medication refills, mental health visits, diabetes and hypertension follow-up visits, asthma visits, and many others. It is easy and secure, while letting patients get the care they need during this difficult time, all from the safety of their home.

Will I get good care from a video visit? We can provide quality care online through our telemedicine capability. If there are any questions about parts of the exam, or testing we can’t accomplish through our telemedicine capability, Carrboro Family Medicine Center will safely direct you to the next steps.

What if I really want to come into the office? We are still open for business! We recommend you consider telemedicine first, but are available for any visits and procedures.

I have cold and flu-like symptoms. Should I come in? We strongly recommend you set up a telemedicine visit with us. There, we can go over all your symptoms and evaluate your breathing. Carrboro Family Medicine Center will be able to come up with a safe plan to get you tested, or treated should you need it.

Coronavirus 101 What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? This is a virus similar to other viruses that cause upper respiratory infections (URIs), or the common cold. It is different because can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or difficulty breathing that requires hospital care. In some people, it can become a very serious infection.

Who is at risk for getting COVID-19? Everyone! It is spread in small droplets when we cough or sneeze, and can remain on surfaces up to 3 days, and possibly in the air for several hours.

Who is at risk for COVID-19 related complications? The chances of requiring hospital care increases for anyone above 40 years old, although young people between 20-40 can also be affected seriously. Men and women over the age of 65 are most at risk. Those with chronic disease like obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, asthma, COPD or tobacco abuse, are also at higher risk.

What happens when you get COVID-19? For some, they may never know they have it. Approximately 80% of people will have no or only mild symptoms – cough, nasal congestion, fever (temperature >100.4) muscle aches, and fatigue. It can feel like the flu. Patients may have some difficulty breathing, even if mild, which feels like a bit of chest tightness or heaviness. However 20% of us are at high risk for requiring significant hospital-care. It is critically important to not spread it to them.

How can I prevent spread? WASH YOUR HANDS! I tell patients “pretend you have just cut up a jalapeño and need to change your contacts”. In other words, scrub all fingers with hot soapy water for 20 seconds. STAY AT HOME! We all wonder if we really need to, if we feel normal. Remember that we can spread it even without knowing. Please think of those in your life who are elderly or have more health problems. They may get very, very sick. Six feet of space between people in any location will help limit the spread of those droplets in the air that may have Coronavirus.

What should I watch out for if I start to feel sick? Treat it like any other cold to start – rest & extra sleep, lots of hydration, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) for muscle aches and fevers. Call us at Carrboro Family Medicine Center to set up a telemedicine visit.

STAY AT HOME. The best thing we can do is stay away from others as much as possible. We need to limit spread to everyone, especially to avoid giving it to the 20% of people who can get very sick from this illness.

I don’t think my symptoms are bad enough to go to the ER, but I would like to talk to a provider. What do I do? Schedule a telemedicine visit with us at Carrboro Family Medicine Center! With a click of a link on your smartphone, tablet or desktop you can have a video visit with us. There, we can evaluate you, and see if you need in-person evaluation or any other testing or treatments. We can also direct you to County Health and UNC testing centers.

I really want to know if I have COVID-19. What can I do? Unfortunately, testing can be limited at this time. Fortunately, most people don’t need a test! For most patients, a positive test would not be helpful in changing how we care for you, which is to STAY AT HOME and manage your cold-symptoms. Only return to usual activity until 3 days after symptoms resolve, or 7 days after symptoms start, whichever is longer.

A telemedicine appointment with Carrboro Family Medicine Center will let us make sure you don’t have a sinus infection, ear infection, or something other than coronavirus. It will let us determine (triage) if you need testing, or any other extra care.

I am having a fever that does not improve with Tylenol, difficulty breathing, I have passed out, or I have other symptoms. What should I do? Go to the ER right away, as you should be seen and treated in-person.

Telemedicine Announcement Carrboro Family Medicine Center would like to announce that our independent, locally managed practice is keeping standard office hours during these challenging times. All necessary precautions with respect to the COVID 19 virus will be taken for in-office appointments.

We are also pleased to announce our new Telemedicine capability available on smartphones, tablets and desktops, allowing patients to access our providers remotely. It is secure, convenient and easy to use for our patients. Telemedicine will help Carrboro Family Medicine Center improve patient satisfaction and access to care.

Please call 919-929-1747 for more information regarding office hours or our new Telehealth offering.