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Covenant offers video conference options to patients

The doctor will see you now – on your phone or electronic device.

To ensure the health and safety of patients and staff from the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19), Covenant Medical Group (CMG) practices throughout the region are now offering “telehealth” visits for their patients. This means patients can schedule appointments where they video conference with their provider by phone, tablet or computer instead of physically coming into the office.

“We want our patients to be safe,” said internist Michael Bernard, MD. “It’s in their best interest to stay home.”

When patients call their CMG providers, they are now encouraged to make an appointment through the telehealth system. Dr. Bernard says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think some of our older patients are somewhat hesitant because of the technological aspect of it, but we’re able to walk them through it,” said Bernard. “Patients are very surprised by how good the communication is and by how straightforward the visits are.”

During an online visit, the physician is able to determine if the patient needs to come into the office or if diagnostic testing needs to be arranged. If not, the doctor can prescribe medication and offer sound medical advice. Sometimes patients only need a doctor to answer some questions and calm their fears.

Bernard says the importance of staying home cannot be overstated during this pandemic. He says he became even more convinced when he volunteered to help treat patients in New York but was turned down because he is over the age of 50.

“I think that just sheds light on how dangerous it can be to be out in public, even though we think of ourselves as being healthy,” said Bernard. “Certainly if you’re over the age of 60 or you have any co-morbidities, you shouldn’t be out. You should be at home.”

Telehealth visits offer one-on-one time with a health care provider minus in-office distractions. Bernard says it has been so successful that he can easily envision seeing patients online beyond the pandemic.

“I think the patients really enjoy the convenience and the communication, and I think we’ll see this continue even after COVID-19 is gone,” said Bernard. “Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later.”

Covenant Medical Group is a member of Covenant Health. To learn more about telehealth services for Covenant Medical Group, visit: www.covenanthealth.com/telephone-telehealth-and-patient-portal-messaging