DOCTORS SEND NATIONWIDE MESSAGE TO PATIENTS:
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU
Concerned that virus fears could lead to secondary health crisis, physicians launch a public service campaign urging patients to not neglect their health
Worried about the long-term health consequences caused by social distancing and isolation, physicians from all over the country are sounding the alarm to patients through a video released on social media: “Don’t neglect your health. Make a promise to reach out.” The “We are Here for You” video is being introduced as part of a national public service campaign, outlined on the website: www.WeAreHereForYou.us. The campaign urges patients to resume critical healthcare services and allaying their fears of contracting the virus.
History has proven this can happen. During the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004, hospitalizations for patients with diabetes plummeted during the epidemic and then skyrocketed afterwards, according to a study by two Taiwan universities and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine in the U.S. A recent ProPublica article indicates that a rise in at-home deaths may be due to patients with conditions such as heart attacks not being able to reach a hospital or refusing to go during the COVID-19 outbreak. (hyperlink) In addition, the New York City Fire Department is reporting an 800 percent increase of at-home cardiac deaths (not Coronavirus-related).
“We are trying to prevent a crisis within a crisis,” says Ben Kornitzer, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for agilon health. Dr. Kornitzer, whose expertise is caring for high risk, home-bound older adults, added, “Although older adults are at a heightened risk of contracting the disease, non-COVID19 medical care should not be overlooked – especially for seniors and patients with underlying conditions. That’s why agilon health and physician partners developed the ‘We are Here for You’ public service campaign to encourage patients to see their doctors now – before secondary symptoms arise or their conditions worsen.”
But with challenges, come opportunities. “Pandemics always change the way society functions,” admits Dr. Kornitzer. “In the midst of a crisis, there are opportunities to learn how to do things better and to innovate. For example, telehealth has become a lifesaver for those who are desperately in need of care and reassurance during this difficult time.”
The website, which features resources for patients, includes new telehealth options and other ways of getting healthcare services during this challenging time. Some of those services include “telehealth on demand,” virtual annual wellness visits, drive-in telemedicine in parking lots, COVID-19 testing in parking lots and tents, and staggered clinic appointment hours for patients with symptoms of the virus and those who have other healthcare needs.
“Technology and science are helping us out now more than ever,” added Dr. Kornitzer. “As our partners connect with their patients via telehealth, they not only see their physical condition, but also their living situation – and can flag any important concerns or needs. Collectively, we all want patients to know we are here to help, and we won’t let them down.”