COVID-19 outbreak forces high-risk patients and their doctors to adapt

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — The coronavirus pandemic is affecting medical care for people with other, ongoing health problems.  

Many have regular appointments but are at high risk and are frightened about possible exposure.

Natalie Carlson is a teenager from Highlands Ranch. She lives with medical issues, including a genetic condition and GI issue. In March, she had two surgeries. 

“I had one to get a feeding tube placed into my stomach,” Natalie said.

Now, her family is having navigate the medical system during the pandemic.

“It has been very challenging. Normally, Natalie is at the doctor sometimes two and three days a week,” said Carrie Carlson, Natalie’s mother. “All of those places now hold fear that she is going to be exposed to COVID.” 

The Carlsons are glad to see their doctors are making changes.

Dr. Ted Stathos is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.  

“We have very sick children that come into our practice,” Stathos said. “This is going to change the face of medicine forever.”

His practice, like many others, has options for patients. Patients at Rocky Mountain Pediatric Gastroenterology can come in for an office visit and social distance in the waiting area. They can wait in their car until a room is ready, or they can go to a triage area.

“These sicker or more immunocompromised patients can come in straight from the parking lot into a small triage room where we have our staff wearing PPE, or the patient wearing PPE, and they get an examination, some vitals and then again go back out to their car. They can complete their visit by Skype or FaceTime,” Stathos said.

The last option is telemedicine video conferences. That’s something Stathos is doing a lot.

“This is is the busiest I’ve been since I was resident. I’m still doing telemedicine calls until 9 or 9:30 at night,” he said.

The Carlsons are glad they can still get care in these uncertain times.

“I am so grateful for the telemedicine,” Carrie said.

“Being able to adapt is amazing,” Natalie added. 

Many clinics are now offering options for their patients. Check your provider’s website or give them a call for information.

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