SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital is tapping technology to continue to meet patients’ needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital offers telehealth appointments to outpatients who can’t or don’t need to be seen face-to-face, including video urgent care appointments at Malta Med Emergent Care.
“Our patients come first, and we want to make sure they feel safe and cared for,” said Kimberly Leon, director of specialty practices for Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. “Caring for patients doesn’t stop simply because the world is experiencing a crisis.”
Saratoga Hospital Medical Group is the hospital’s multispecialty practice of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The group has more than 250 providers in over 30 medical specialties. Many whose patients can be served remotely are taking advantage of the telehealth option.
“In some cases, maybe the patient can wait,” Leon said. “But if they’re anxious and would feel better being seen by their healthcare provider, a telehealth visit can provide some much-needed and beneficial reassurance.”
Telehealth technology also appeals to sick patients who are worried they will be exposed to the new coronavirus if they seek treatment at a healthcare facility. For these patients, Malta Med Emergent Care, a joint venture of Saratoga Hospital and Albany Med, offers virtual urgent care appointments from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
To request an appointment, patients can go online, click on“Book a Telehealth Appointment,” and answer a list of questions. If their condition can be diagnosed and treated remotely, patients receive a text notifying them of their appointment. At the scheduled time, depending on the make of their device, patients receive a video call via FaceTime or an email invite from Webex to join their visit.
“We’re hearing that people are afraid to come in,” said Lisa West, site administrator at Malta Med Emergent Care. “As long as we can see the patient, we should be able to diagnose most urgent care problems. We’d rather see them virtually as soon as possible, so we can begin treatment and prevent them from getting worse.
“We’ve always been here for the community,” she added, “and we don’t want that to change because of the coronavirus.”
Saratoga Hospital also is sensitive to the concerns of family members who cannot visit hospitalized patients during the pandemic. Dr. Kevin Dooley and physician assistant Seana Mosher, of the hospital’s Inpatient Transition Program, provide phone updates to keep families in the loop.
“We know that our restricted visitation policy, while necessary, places an extra burden on patients and family and friends who cannot visit,” said Dooley, medical director of the program, which helps high-risk hospital patients successfully transition to home. “Seana and I are checking in on inpatients and updating their families.
“We’re letting them know the extra steps we’re taking during this unprecedented time and reassuring them that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care,” he added.
Family members can request an update from Dooley or Mosher by calling 518-886-5060.