While hospitals across the country report a decline in patients admitted for strokes, heart attacks, emergency appendectomies and other urgent health concerns, physicians at DHR Health caution that the decline may be attributed to people’s fears about being admitted to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. With policies and protocols in place to prevent disease spread within the hospital and clinics, doctors are reminding patients to pay close attention to their health and to contact their healthcare provider when experiencing unusual pain or symptoms.
DHR Health’s main focus is caring for the needs of patients. The hospital’s surgeons, trauma team and Comprehensive Stroke Center team, among other specialists, continue to be on call for the emergent medical needs of the community. DHR Health specialty clinics remain open and are offering TeleHealth services to patients. Additionally, patients who are experiencing non-life-threatening symptoms but need immediate attention can visit one of DHR Health’s three urgent care locations.
“In spite of the ongoing crisis and as we fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley, the medical personnel at DHR Health would like to remind the public that WE ARE HERE FOR YOU and that we’re taking all necessary precautions to safeguard and protect our patients in our community,” said Carlos Garcia-Cantu, M.D., chairman of the board of the Renaissance Medical Foundation. “It’s important to remember that there are many other healthcare problems that need immediate close attention. Please contact our physicians and do not wait before it is too late.”
Doctors are particularly concerned about patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease as well as those who maybe immunocompromised due to a recent transplant, cancer treatments or other conditions. Additionally, expectant mothers should stay in regular communication with their obstetricians.
To help provide patients continuity of care, DHR Health is offering TeleHealth services so that providers can conduct appointments via audiovisual services such as videoconferencing through the internet, streaming media, or through wireless communications.
“Through TeleHealth we’re providing a lifeline –literally and figuratively—to our patients in the Valley, allowing them to maintain their medical care while also practicing social distancing.” “We’re able to conduct follow up appointments and surgical consultations,” said Jose Almeda, M.D., Director, DHR Health Transplant Institute. “It has really added another dimension to the doctor-patient relationship with more personable interaction right from the patient’s living room. The patients really seem to like it and are more appreciative, especially because of the convenience factor.”
Many of the physicians at DHR Health’s specialty clinics, school-based clinics and urgent cares also appreciate the flexibility that the technology offers them to conduct assessments, provide clinical care and engage with patients.
Marcel Twahirwa, M.D., Medical Director of DHR Health’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Institute, says that it’s critical to have the TeleHealth capabilities for his team and patients in the Rio Grande Valley, especially because diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death among Hispanics.
“People with diabetes have a higher risk for secondary health conditions including heart disease and kidney disease, so they need this extension of their medical care that TeleHealth offers,” said Twahirwa. “We’re urging patients to contact us if they are experiencing lower or higher than normal glucose levels or getting low in their medications and supplies. We’re equipped to provide patients with all the resources necessary needed to control their diabetes.”
Marissa Gomez-Martinez, M.D. says TeleHealth has had a major impact with patients at the DHR Health Edinburg CISD School Based Health Center.
“TeleHealth has been a game changer for us during this time. It has been very useful and has helped us save patients from falling through the cracks,” said Gomez-Martinez. “Patients are relieved to know that they can still see us. Just hearing our voices has helped our patients remain calm and helped reduce their fears. Being able to talk to a physician has allowed them to know that they are not alone”.
This virtual visit enables DHR Health physicians to safely treat patients while following social distancing guidelines. When needed, physicians will call in prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy. With step-by-step instructions available on the DHR Health website, www.DHRHealth.com patients have found the TeleHealth services to be very accessible and convenient.
“I loved having the TeleHealth option and I highly recommend it. You don’t need to be technology smart to use this, it was a great experience, very personalized, great communication and the app is easy to use,” said Magdalena Ojeda, a DHR Health patient. “I loved it, you are face to face with your doctor and do not need to worry about getting exposed at a doctor’s office since this method allows you to stay home. The doctors are asking the same questions they ask when you go to their office.”
For more information about DHR Health TeleHealth, please call Rene Hinojosa at (956) 362-3087 or visit our website; www.DHRHealth.com