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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Overview for Patients

We wanted to provide a new update related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As you are aware, this is a rapidly evolving situation, so the steps we are outlining below, may continue to change as more information becomes available. We will keep you updated as we have new information. There have now been confirmed cases in each of the states that R-Health operates. Although the risk is still low, R-Health continues to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for evaluation of patients who may be at risk of developing COVID-19.

Members of our clinical leadership team are communicating with the state and local departments of health to monitor and respond to this evolving situation.

Patients who have appointments should be assured that all operations continue as usual, and our practices remain ready to provide care to all our patients. The only change is that when scheduling appointments, you will be asked some additional screening questions to determine if you are at risk for exposure or symptoms of COVID-19.

 

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of infection with COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

The severity of symptoms can range from very mild to severe, even death.  Importantly, most patients with COVID-19 have only mild respiratory symptoms and do not require hospitalization. However, it is important to limit contact with others to prevent further exposure.

 

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

Call us right away (do not immediately come into the office) if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Call us first and ask to speak to a healthcare provider to tell us about your symptoms, recent travels, and possible exposure before you make an appointment or before you go to the ER. Coming into the office in person may spread the virus to others who are already sick.

 

Virtual Care

One of the benefits of R-Health is our access to virtual tools for patient communication. This includes the Spruce mobile app and the Elation Patient Passport. We encourage you to use these virtual communications tools, along with the phone, to communicate with the practice or have a virtual appointment, if medically appropriate. Call us if you need information on how to download Spruce or access the Elation Patient Passport.

 

Preventing the Spread

Please note that even if you are not experiencing symptoms, we each have an important role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Simple hygiene can be very helpful in preventing transmission of many illnesses. This includes

  • Washing hands frequently (with soap for 20 seconds)
  • Utilizing hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available
  • Covering a cough/sneeze with shirt sleeve or tissue (not hands)
  • Avoiding touching your face

In addition, social distancing is an important protective measure. This includes avoiding mass gatherings, avoiding crowds, and staying home if you’re not feeling well.

 

Additional Information

Additional up-to-date information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

 

Updated March 12, 2020

 

PATIENT STORY: A TRUE RELATIONSHIP WITH A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN

Mr. J has worked for the State of New Jersey as a maintenance worker for 14 years. He has struggled with substance abuse for many years. The Human Resources department at work informed him that he could see a primary care physician at R-Health as part of his state benefits coverage for no extra charge and no copay. When he met Dr. Jones at R-Health in Ewing, NJ, he was surprised at how she listened to his story and let him speak. He says, “It felt good to have a primary care doctor take an interest in me and spend quality time.” He confided in her that he needed help. But one matter weighed on his mind. He wanted to see his daughter graduate from high school. Dr. Jones went to work and found a substance abuse program to help Mr. J with recovery and also make it possible for him to attend that graduation.

He’s clean, appreciative and grateful. And he’s getting ready to go back to work. Mr. J says that staying on top his health is a priority. “My body is like a car. I have to do the maintenance and make sure I’m taking care of it,” he adds. Now he has a partner in his health care.

Discover a true relationship with a primary care physician at R-Health.

Open Dialogue with your Doctor

Questions. A fundamental aspect of any conversation. Asking questions can help you feel at ease and bring clarity to any discussion. And one person you’ll really want to be sure that you’re asking questions of is your doctor.

While we previously discussed the role of patient engagement, asking your doctor questions is a continuation of that conversation. While R-Health doctors have the patient’s best interest in mind, sometimes messages can be lost in translation, or otherwise misconstrued, which is why questions are needed for clarity. Too often patients go along with a plan without having a full understanding, which can ultimately cause the plan to fail. Thus, TIME provided a list of things you should be asking your doctor.

  1. “What are the different treatment options?” – Regardless of your condition, there should be a shared decision-making process about your options.
  2. “What outcome should I expect?” – Knowing outcomes may impact your decision on moving forward with a treatment and/or which option to choose.
  3. “Do we have to do this now, or can we revisit later?” – Gives your doctor more time to consider the severity of an ailment, which may halt pre-mature action. Some health issues work themselves out with time. Others need to be addressed sooner.
  4. “Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?” – Making changes to your lifestyle can be very important. If you treat your body correctly, it pays you back with good health.
  5. “What are the side effects?” – Patients should know of possible side effects ahead of time so they can factor them into their decision-making on the course of treatment and/or what to expect from it.
  6. “How will I hear about my test results?” – If not explicitly stated, it’s important for the patient to know how they will receive test results to prevent uncertainty and anxiety.
  7. “How much will this cost me?” – There are many uncertainties regarding cost due to insurance, different tests or medications, etc. Therefore, it’s important to ask in order to financially prepare for that commitment.
  8. “What questions haven’t I asked that I should have? – Sometimes amid asking your doctor questions, he or she may forget to mention a discussion topic they wanted to introduce. Therefore, this question can help serve as a reminder for the doctor, and get you more information.

Questions don’t always have to be this heavy. But at R-Health, we want to foster an opening and trusting dialogue between our doctors and patients. Take the initiative. Ask for help. Get your questions answered. You have tremendous access to your R-Health doctor, whether by phone, email or other electronic media.  Your R-Health team is willing and able to answer any questions you may have.

It’s Time to Engage

When afforded access to great healthcare, that’s when the real work begins. Your health goals and outcomes aren’t solely reliant on the doctor, but that responsibility also falls on you. Patient engagement is the first step towards the management of your health. According to the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, increased patient engagement leads to better patient outcomes, a higher quality of care, and lowered health care costs. It also helps in developing prevention and chronic disease self-management programs that many new practices are modeled after. However, let’s further discuss the upsides of patient engagement.

Increased communication – Physicians and patients can communicate with one another more often and provide updates and timelines on a patient’s conditions

Increased patient satisfaction – With open dialogue channels between patient and doctor, patients become more confident regarding diagnoses and conditions since they are privy to more information.

Prevention – We utilize health-related information systems to help improve health outcomes and to identify trends of health and disease earlier.

Furthermore, there are challenges when it comes to patient engagement. However, our R-Health doctors make it easy by having your health as their top priority. Our doctors:

  • Respect your individual needs
  • Lead and manage your care
  • Coordinate your care with other providers and facilities
  • Provide care for short-term and long-term illnesses based on up-to-date standards of care
  • Refer you to community resources that fit your needs

We have a few suggestions on how to stay engaged with your doctor:

  1. Partner with your doctor to develop a care plan (inform your doctor of any illnesses)
  2. Follow your care plan, and let your doctor know if you have difficulty with it
  3. Keep your appointments and contact your doctor if you can’t make it
  4. Check your patient portal for clinical summaries and instructions after each appointment
  5. If you have any question that needs answering, don’t wait, feel free to reach out to your doctor at any time

Despite aids from technology and the availability of your doctor, engagement isn’t effective if you don’t take the initiative to use these tools and seize more control of your health outcomes. With R-Health you have unlimited access to your doctor, so now it’s your turn to get engaged!