||NP Diana Mahoney firmly believes you don't need to see a patient's smile to know you're making a difference.
Nurse Practitioner Diana Mahoney understands that a strong connection with patients is key to good health.
At this time of crisis, she's keeping those connections -- virtually, through telehealth.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner Diana Mahoney realized it wasn't safe for many of her patients to visit the Health Center.
"The majority of the patients slated to come in were older, with chronic health conditions - the ones most at risk for COVID-19. We knew this wasn't safe. We started picking up the phone."
This realization coincided with a decision by the state, and many private insurers, allowing providers to bill for medical visits over the phone.
Thanks to a herculean team effort, the Health Center's telehealth services were launched almost overnight. As we navigate the operational and financial stress of COVID-19, telehealth is helping us all weather this crisis.
"With so much uncertainty, our patients need to stay connected to someone they know, someone they trust. Here at the Health Center, we always put the patient first. Always."
Making the leap to a more virtual model involved entering uncharted waters. And not just for our Care Teams. Our Call Center, Patient Services, Information Services, and Finance and Billing departments all had to get up to speed. Thankfully, the entire team rallied to do what we always do here at the Health Center: put our patients' needs first.
"Everyone rose to meet the need. It hasn't all been seamless. But, when you lead with your patient, the rest just falls into place."
Patients also had to get used to the idea. As Diana explains, "With telehealth, you can't diagnose all types of physical symptoms. What you can do is have a conversation, which is really what primary medical care is all about."
One plus: The phone eliminates many of the distractions that come into play during an in-person appointment - putting the patient more at ease. "I've had so many wonderful conversations with patients these past couple of weeks. You can really hear the relief in their voices," Diana shares.
Most telehealth appointments are scheduled for existing patients, many of whom rely on the Health Center to help them manage chronic conditions. After a thorough conversation, providers can offer guidance and support, and call in a prescription or order lab work. We can even offer interpretation for non-English speaking patients.
Telehealth is not a new concept. But, in this time of social distancing, it's more than just a convenience. By keeping patients out of the Health Center, we're helping to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure. And keep our Health Center family connected, despite social distancing.
Now, more than ever, we're holding to the values that have guided us for the last 50 years: approaching each and every patient with kindness, understanding, and compassion so that everyone receives exactly the care they deserve in the most effective - and safe - way possible.
"My number one concern is that patients don't feel abandoned or alone. I want patients to know that the Health Center is here - to keep them safe - now, and far into the future."
If you are interested in supporting the work of Health Center staff like Diana, who are working tirelessly to protect our community, consider a gift to our
COVID-19 Response Fund.
All donations will go directly towards overcoming financial challenges related to the crisis.