Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this column that we had 51 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The number of hospitalized patients began increasing, and we quickly had more than 200 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
This new variant is highly transmissible and has led many people to seek care in our hospital emergency departments, which is not always the best or most appropriate venue for care. Our Lee Convenient Care urgent care clinics have also seen a significant increase in visits. To help provide an alternative for our community to avoid longer than normal wait times in both the emergency departments and urgent care clinics, Lee Health is currently offering Lee Telehealth for free.
Through Lee Telehealth, patients can access care from a board-certified physician from the comfort of their home via a smartphone, tablet or computer. This convenience helps patients who aren’t feeling well enough to leave their house and helps those who may have limited mobility or transportation options receive the care they need. And, unlike traditional physician offices or urgent care centers, Lee Telehealth is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing care for a variety of common, non-life-threatening conditions.
To access Lee Telehealth, download the Lee Health app or visit www.LeeTelehealth.org.
Another convenient option for care is DispatchHealth. This service is ideal for the treatment of conditions that you would typically seek care for in an urgent care office, like the flu, sinus infections, strep throat, cuts and lacerations that require stitches, minor fractures, sprains and strains. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, be sure to discuss all of your symptoms with the DispatchHealth team. The care team that comes to your home includes a physician assistant or nurse practitioner and a medical technician. An on-call emergency medicine physician is always available to consult with the care team, too.
The service is convenient and easy to use. You can request an appointment without a referral by visiting www.DispatchHealth.com. Simply explain your symptoms, provide some details about your illness or injury, and note the name of your primary care provider. The DispatchHealth onboarding team will confirm it is not an emergency and that it’s safe to treat your medical condition at home. Within a few hours, the medical team will arrive ready to treat you in the privacy and comfort of your home. The team comes prepared to do on-site lab and x-rays. They will administer a test if they suspect that you have COVID-19.
In addition to treating your illness or injury, the care team will call in any prescriptions, update your doctor and handle billing with your insurance company. DispatchHealth is in-network with most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and is often the same out-of-pocket cost of an in-network urgent care center. Costs will be different for each patient based on the level of care and insurance coverage, but it is definitely more cost-effective than a trip to the emergency department.
Both Lee Telehealth and DispatchHealth help us deliver the care our community needs and deserves. These programs provide innovative options for care whether someone wants an in-person experience or a virtual one, which brings a level of comfort to many during this surge of the Omicron variant.
Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA is the president & CEO of Lee Health, Southwest Florida’s major destination for health care offering acute care, emergency care, rehabilitation and diagnostic services, health and wellness education, and community outreach and advocacy programs. Visit www.LeeHealth.org to learn more.
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Lee Health: Alternate venues for care during a COVID-19 surge