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In recent months, we have struggled with how to conduct our lives in the shadow of this pandemic. COVID-19, has closed restaurants, gyms, public gatherings and has even changed how we deliver care in medical practices to protect our communities.

Maintaining Care in a Time of Pandemic

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In recent months, we have struggled with how to conduct our lives in the shadow of this pandemic. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has closed restaurants, gyms, public gatherings and has even changed how we deliver care in medical practices to protect our communities.

New Appointment Types for Primary Care

You have likely noticed that your primary care provider has switched from seeing patients in the office to doing video visits, visits over the phone and even eVisits through the Sentara App or your secure Sentara account. We recognize that this is not preferred for those who have complex conditions or need in-person physical evaluations, however, virtual appointments allow many patients to maintain and monitor their complex medical problems, as well as minor complaints, while remaining safe at home.

Importance of Primary Care, Especially During a Pandemic

There is a study that the US Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion published on how to improve the health of Americans in 2020. That study stated that "Primary care is critical for improving population health and reducing health disparities."

The takeaway: It is important to maintain regular follow-up with your primary care provider.

Recently, our communities have been neglecting any type of health care out of fear for contracting COVID-19. Many cities have seen a dramatic drop in emergency room visits and noticed an increase in the number of people dying at home with common health emergencies like heart attacks, stroke and other severe illnesses.

The unfortunate reality is that although there is a pandemic going on, people will still continue to suffer from heart disease, stroke, cancer and other medical conditions. So, it is important to not ignore symptoms of serious health conditions and forgo care due to fear of contracting the coronavirus.

It is now more important than ever to maintain regular care to help prevent these type of health issues, not just coronavirus.

Your provider is waiting and available to help you through this tough time, so don't forget to take care of your health. Maintaining your health with your provider could be as simple as having a regular check-up with your primary care provider through a video visit or over the phone, or as specialized as following-up with your provider on your diabetes to help prevent stroke, vision loss or limb loss.

We encourage you to take advantage of the safe-at-home opportunities to connect with your primary or specialty care provider. Simply call your provider's office and ask about the care options available during this time. And, please, do not hesitate to visit the emergency room if you feel you or someone you love is having a life-threatening emergency.

What Do I Do If I Don't Have A Primary Care Provider?

If you don't have a primary care provider, we recommend that you start with the Sentara Virtual Care team to access a video visit. To learn more, please visit sentara.com/videovisits.

If you have any COVID-19 questions, please feel free to reach out to our COVID-19 Call Center open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm at 1-833-945-2395, or use our COVID assessment tool located on our home page at sentara.com.

 References

 "Access to Primary Care." Access to Primary Care | Healthy People 2020, 2020, www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/access-to-primary.

Hogan, Gwynne. "Staggering Surge Of NYers Dying In Their Homes Suggests City Is Undercounting Coronavirus Fatalities." Gothamist, Gothamist, 7 Apr. 2020, gothamist.com/news/surge-number-new-yorkers-dying-home-officials-suspect-undercount-covid-19-related-deaths.

O'Dea, Janelle. "Drop in ER Visits Concerns St. Louis-Area Doctors." STLtoday.com, 27 Apr. 2020, www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/drop-in-er-visits-concerns-st-louis-area-doctors/article_6c801cde-60aa-5b47-bec2-d109076dffa3.html.