KC CARE Health Center offers virtual doctor visits via Telehealth

In an effort to maintain safe distances and practice optimal health guidelines, KC CARE Health Center is offering patients a way to visit with doctors without leaving their homes.

Telehealth is patient care services that are offered via phone, tablet, or computer that connects patients to healthcare providers.

Telehealth is available to new and existing patients and serves individuals who are insured, under-insured, or uninsured. 

As many individuals are complying with the citywide stay-at-home order, KC CARE Health Center CEO Wil Franklin said they have experienced a drop in patient visits.

“Part of that is a lot of preventative visits,” said Franklin. “A lot of what we do is chronic care management. We are taking care of individuals with significantly compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses. The last thing we need is for those individuals to be venturing out into public for routine care.”

Franklin said KC CARE Health Center has also shut down the main portion of dental care and is only providing emergency dental services per the American Dental Association. 

“The risk of spreading COVID19 is so high with dental work, none of the health centers can really operate their dental practices,” he said.

Telehealth offers a way for patients to still be able to see and talk with a doctor while complying with social distancing and not compromising their health. 

“In two weeks, we have moved almost 40 percent of our business to Telehealth visits,” said Franklin. “People are scared, too. They are worried. We have a lot of elderly patients who have high blood pressure or cardiac disease and they’re nervous about coming into the health center.  We have scaled up Telehealth to be able to meet some of that need.” 

Telehealth uses HIPAA-compliant technology (to protect patient privacy) on smartphones, tablets, or computers and visits can also adapt to landline telephones if needed. 

While many routine issues can be addressed via Telehealth, the provider may determine that a physical, in-person exam are required. 

“Many things require a physical exam, said Blair Thedinger, KC CARE Health Center associate medical director. Sometimes when we see patients, we will give them certain types of treatment, maybe an injection or a nebulized inhaled treatment and we obviously can’t do that over the phone. It’s also important to get vital signs on patients and it’s harder to do that.” 

Telehealth visits can include acute needs such as allergies, skin concerns, infections, cough, or flu-like symptoms; chronic, such as diabetes, hypertension, HIV PrEP, HIV treatment, and headaches; behavior health needs such as therapy appointments, and medication refills. Telehealth patients also have access to KC CARE’s on-site pharmacy with access to affordable medications 

Existing KC Care Health Center patients who are interested in accessing Telehealth can call KC CARE Health Center at 816-753-5144 to speak with a scheduler and get further instructions on submitting necessary documents to the patient portal. 

New patients can fill out a form by clicking here to request an appointment or call KC CARE Health Center at 816-753-5144 to speak with a scheduler.

Franklin said KC Care Health Center is working on providing the best service possible with Telehealth as the number of new patients increase.

“We’ve got huge spikes in unemployment right now, so the number of patients we serve who are going to be uninsured are going to increase dramatically,” he said. “We are going to have to scale up services in the coming months because those individuals who are newly unemployed are probably not going to be able to go where they have gone in the past to get care, with no insurance.” 

While Telehealth is helping many people who do not want to leave their homes during the COVID19 pandemic, Franklin said it is also increasing access that many individuals would otherwise not have. 

“Being a community health center, a lot of our patients have challenges with transportation, and sometimes, coming for four visits even in a 12-month time span is really difficult,” he said. “Sometimes people are choosing to go to the doctors office over other important needs. Having this Telehealth option would be a long-term gain in terms of access.”

Overall, Thedinger said KC CARE Health Center is working to provide quality service in the best way possible in the midst of stay-at-home orders. 

“If we can try to assist in the general social distancing orders, to slow the spread of the virus by reducing—because we can’t eliminate in person visits, but we can reduce them—then I think that’s very much worthwhile,” he said. “KC CARE is open for business and we want to serve our patient base. We want to make sure they get what they need in terms of their medical care and one new option for doing that is Telehealth and we are going to use it as much as we can, wherever it’s appropriate.” 

To schedule a Telehealth visit, call 816-753-5144. To learn more about Telehealth, visit kccare.org/telehealth.

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