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During the uncertain times caused by COVID-19, many patients are worried about going to see their primary care provider. Some even think offices have been closed and they are unable to get the care they need.
Betsy Peerless MD, a family medicine physician with TriHealth's Health First in Mason, says that is not the case. “We are open and on call for our patients,” says Dr. Peerless. “As primary care physicians, we know our patients best.”
To ease fears that patients have, Dr. Peerless says Health First is doing several different things to make it easier for patients to get the care they need, as are all TriHealth primary care and specialty locations. If a patient wants to see their physician in person, call and make an appointment.
“We are meticulously cleaning each exam room after each patient,” says Dr. Peerless. “Our waiting room is closed. We are having patients wait in the car. When we are ready, we call them and take them directly to an exam room.”
Dr. Peerless added that patients with any upper respiratory symptoms can even be seen curbside in their car to minimize any exposure.
Dr. Peerless admits not everyone is ready to be seen in the ofﬁce yet. She says the ofﬁce has received great feedback about the virtual visits being offered.
“We can see patients in real time with a video visit,” says Dr. Peerless. “Some patients are unable to use this, but we also offer phone visits to patients as will.”
Most conditions are able to be diagnosed via the virtual visits and the care is just as good. If something is not able to be diagnosed, Peerless says they convert the virtual visit into an in-person visit.
“Sometimes we need to physically see a patient to give an appropriate diagnosis and plan for their care moving forward,” says Dr. Peerless. “If this happens, we cancel the existing visit and have the patient come see us. There is no second bill or co-pay.”
If left untreated, illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease can get much worse.
“Ignoring current medical problems and focusing only on the virus is a mistake,” says Dr. Peerless. “A heart attack can still kill you regardless of exposure to the virus.”
The same can be said of abdominal pain. Sometimes patients put off seeing their primary care provider and it gets worse.
“Abdominal pain could be appendicitis or diverticulitis,” says Dr. Peerless. “Both conditions require medical attention and putting it off could lead to some pretty serious consequences.”
Dr. Peerless also says it is important for everyone to keep up with regular screenings and physicals if they are due for one. “Annual physicals are vital for detecting some medical conditions before symptoms even exist,” says Dr. Peerless. “For some diseases, early detection greatly increases survival rates.”
As a family medicine physician, Dr. Peerless just wants her patients to be comfortable seeking care.
“We are all in the same situation and everyone is being cautious,” says Dr. Peerless. “We are trying to reduce any fears our patients have because we want to see them when they need to be seen.”