Skipping waiting rooms, follow-ups by video call: Medical care resumes with safeguards

Norton Healthcare providers are minimizing direct contact between patients and caregivers as service resumes.

Appointments with your health care providers are changing, and new options may be around long after the coronavirus threat has passed.

For Christina M. Breit, M.D., the waiting room at her St. Matthews primary care practice isn’t used much. Patients check in from their cars and go directly to an exam room.

Ryan J. Krupp, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute, reviews magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans with patients and conducts initial assessments about their condition by phone or video. Many of his and other providers’ patients are using telehealth for guidance in their postoperative rehabilitation.

“We’ve done away with the lobby, so there’s pretty much no intermingling between patients anymore. They’re brought directly up, checked in extremely quickly if they weren’t able to do it successfully in their car, then immediately shown to an exam room,” said Dr. Breit, an internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Mallard Creek. “If there are any ancillary labs or diagnostics, most of those are getting done in the same room where the visit took place.”

Related: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have revised policies that affect labor and delivery for pregnant patients, including treatment protocols for inpatient infants.

Related: Skipping waiting rooms, follow-ups by video call: Medical care resumes with safeguards

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The way medical care is delivered as services resume during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed to protect patients and caregivers. Some of the changes will last beyond the crisis as patients become more comfortable with video visits and other innovations.

Related: Phased health care resumption: Questions and answers about office visits

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In the past month, use of the Norton Telehealth platform has jumped, with greater patient acceptance and the expansion of types of visits available.

Telehealth is being used particularly often by neurology patients and behavioral health care.

Urgent and emergency care has continued at Norton Healthcare throughout the crisis.

Other services are reopening in a phased process:

  • Phase 1: Started April 27 and allowed office visits and diagnostic procedures with social distancing and other protections in place.
  • Phase 2: Outpatient surgeries resumed May 6 for patients not expected to need more than 23 hours of observation.
  • Phase 3: Starting May 13, Norton Healthcare will be able to perform half the number of inpatient procedures as before the coronavirus protections took place, if cases remain on a downward trend.
  • Full services can resume May 27 if personal protective equipment supplies and bed availability permit.

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