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Telemedicine is not just for primary care anymore

Kaleida Health

Patients are apparently avoiding emergency rooms during this COVID-19 pandemic, but doctors say that is a bad idea.

Emergency departments are set up for every type of emergency, from strokes to inflamed appendixes. A lot of the problems seen can be fatal or disabling and need immediate care.

At Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, there are nearly half as many patients coming through the ER as eight weeks ago, before the pandemic. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Mineo said people not coming in are likely putting themselves at risk of making a bad health situation worse.

"They heard our message about staying home and they took it to heart, too much," said Mineo. "So we want them to be aware of their body if they have symptoms. Call their doctor or they can use telemedicine through Kaleida Health. You can actually log on and talk with an ER doctor within Kaleida, using telemedicine, and have them help you assess your symptoms, rather than ignoring them or treating them at home."

Mineo said two months ago his ER averaged 140 patients a day. Now it is 65-70.

"Our primary medicine community has done a great job quickly adapting to telemedicine," he said. "Prior to this, less than 5% were using telemedicine. Now it's over 75% and they are using that connection to help manage the chronic disease. There's been some drop off, but, really, the patients are keeping that portion up. It's the acute conditions that we're concerned are being neglected."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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