Get the Most Out of Your Telehealth Visits During a Pandemic

May 08, 2020

As a way to keep our members safe and continue to meet their health needs, AltaMed now offers telephone and video visits. You’ll still get the same excellent quality of care and level of attention that you’re used to, all without leaving your house. And obviously, right now it’s the safest option for both you and your doctor.

You can find technical information to prepare for a telehealth visit here. This article focuses on how to prepare to have the most productive visit so your doctor can help you. 


Telehealth Visits: What Are They?

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Using either a cell phone, landline, a tablet or a laptop, you can talk to an AltaMed doctor over the phone or through video. You can discuss the same kind of things you would at a regular doctor visit, including your symptoms and concerns. You may also be able to get an immediate diagnosis, learn about your treatment options, and even get a prescription if your doctor thinks it’s appropriate.

 

Conditions That Can Be Treated Over the Phone

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 First things first: if you are experiencing a significant loss of blood, breathing problems, fainting or loss of consciousness, a broken bone, or a head or spinal injury, call 911 now! These problems require immediate attention. Check here if you’re not sure if it’s an emergency or not.

Telehealth visits are a good option for many routine health needs – the type of things you’d make an appointment to see your family doctor for, such as:
⦁    Colds, allergies, or flus that aren’t COVID-19 related
⦁    If it hurts to urinate
⦁    Minor scrapes and infections
⦁    A sore throat
⦁    Diarrhea

You can also use telehealth visits to help you manage chronic, or ongoing, conditions, such as:   

⦁    Asthma
⦁    Diabetes
⦁    High blood pressure
⦁    Heart disease
⦁    HIV/AIDS

Eligible patients may be able to have a phone appointment with a dietician or a screening with a dental specialist for dental emergencies.

 

Be Prepared to Talk About Your Health History

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Because your doctor isn’t able to do a hands-on examination, you should be prepared to give them as much information as you can and describe your symptoms. Your appointment may not be with your usual doctor, so you may need to help the doctor understand your health history. Be ready to tell your doctor about: 
⦁    Prior or existing conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, depression, breast cancer)
⦁    Previous surgeries
⦁    If you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter medication
⦁    If you are currently under the care of another doctor


Make Sure You Can Give Information About Your Health Concern

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Your doctor can only help you if he understands your concerns. You can help!
Before your visit, write down information about your condition. Think about questions like:
⦁    Where is your pain or discomfort?
⦁    What is the pain like – sharp, stabbing, dull?
⦁    How long have you felt like this?
⦁    Can you trace your problem back to a certain event – for example, if you came in contact with an allergen, started feeling bad after you ate something, or lifted something heavy? 
⦁    Are there times when it’s better or worse?
⦁    Have you taken any over-the-counter treatments? If so, what kind and for how long? Did they make you feel better?


Find a Quiet, Private Place to Take the Phone Call

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A provider will call you within one-hour of the appointment time or may call you sooner than the appointment time. You may only have a limited amount of time, so make the most of it by finding a spot at home where you can talk freely and without distractions.

Even though your doctor can’t examine you the way they would in an AltaMed facility, they will do their best to find out about your condition. Make sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, in case they ask you to roll up a sleeve, turn to the side so they can watch you breathe, or give you other instructions.

You’ll be able to talk with a doctor who speaks your language, but it’s important that you understand what they’re saying. Our doctors want to help, so feel free to tell them, “I don’t really understand what you mean” or ask them to explain things more than once. 

After the visit, you can get notes and a summary of the visit at your MyAltaMed patient portal, or if you have not registered for access to MyAltaMed, a paper copy will be mailed to you. 

If you need a prescription medicine, we’ll make sure it’s sent over to the pharmacy of your choice.


Need Care? Call Us First!

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No matter what your health care needs, we’re here to make sure they get handled. Call our Patient Service Center at (888) 499-9303 and we’ll direct you to the right services. 


 

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Follow-up Visits for Your Newborn During a Pandemic

April 29, 2020

We know you’re doing everything you can to protect your newborn baby from COVID-19. However, it is vitally important that you bring your baby for in-person, follow-up visits with a pediatrician. Telephone visits are not an appropriate substitute for in-person, follow-up care. 

As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular, in-person visits, starting at 48 hours after their release from the hospital, are crucial for your baby’s health. Your doctor needs to be able to monitor your baby’s progress, which includes checking:

⦁    Weight and length
⦁    Reflexes
⦁    How well the baby is feeding
⦁    Sleep patterns
⦁    If they’re peeing and pooping like they should

These checkups can help your doctor identify any problems early – which could be the difference between life and death.

These visits are also your chance to learn more about your baby and how to be a good parent. Bring your questions to your doctor – no question is too small.


Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Newboin visit

Your doctor’s office will explain the purpose of every visit and can even help you schedule these visits ahead of time. Make it a priority to keep every single appointment.

It’s even more important than ever that your baby receives the right immunizations at the right time, and your doctor will advise you on this. For older children, we offer drive-up immunization clinics at some of our locations. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to learn more.
 

COVID-19: Taking Care of Your Mental Health Matters More Than Ever

April 27, 2020

Human beings are creatures of habit: we crave routine, dependability, and stability in our daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped a lot of that out, with many of us having to adjust to being with our families or completely isolated, 24/7. The fear of the health and economic effects, and not knowing when things will get back to normal, can result in stress, anxiety, and depression.

At AltaMed, we want to encourage you to think about your mental health and provide the support you may need. We understand that many people do not feel comfortable admitting they’re having problems, but the more we talk about what we’re going through, the more obvious it becomes that these issues are a normal part of life. There’s no shame in asking for help! 


We’re All Grieving for the Lives We Used to Have

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 Unfortunately, none of us know what the future holds. With the fear that we’ll never get back to “normal,” there can be a sense of loss. 

Many of us are also struggling with our schedules being disrupted, which can lead to a feeling of loss of control. Those feelings can spiral into anxiety and depression. If this sounds like you, it may help to create and stick to a routine. 

Aim to go to bed at the same time every night, and try to get a minimum of 7 – 8 hours of quality sleep (kids need even more) so you can start each day right.  In addition to work and home responsibilities, build in time for exercise, socializing with friends online or over the phone, and self-care

And don’t forget the little things – especially brushing your teeth three times a day. It may be more difficult to get dental appointments, so give yourself and your family one less thing to worry about.


You Don’t Have to Be Strong All the Time

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Many of us are trying to set a good example and be strong for our children, our partners, and those who depend on us. It’s OK to admit that you’re scared, too. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, don’t bury these feelings. Reach out to those you’re closest to and tell them how you feel. 

Do whatever you can to maintain your close connections and then lean in – the risks of loneliness and isolation during times like this are great, and so are the consequences.


Find a Way to Deal with Stress

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Living through long periods of stress can trigger bad behaviors – for example, drinking too much or using drugs. Too much stress for too long can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and more. It’s more important than ever to find a healthy way to deal with stress

Adults aren’t the only ones experiencing stress during the pandemic: your kids, being out of school and away from their friends and relatives, are going through stress, too. Talk to them honestly about it and listen to what they have to say. Then look for activities you can do together to help take the pressure off. Maybe it’s having a virtual dance party or going for a walk or bike-ride – just don’t forget to maintain your physical distance from others and wear a mask.


Give Yourself a Break 

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Most of us have never been through anything as intense as the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s taking a lot out of us, physically and emotionally. It may be harder to keep up – with house cleaning, working out, achieving personal goals you might have made like losing weight or exercising more. And that’s OK – you don’t have to be perfect, and you’re not a failure. It’s still important to set goals and expectations, but think about revising them or think about breaking them down into small steps.

For example, if you’re frustrated because your house has gotten messy, instead of aiming for perfection, figure out a way to enlist your family in a chore every day. If you had the goal of losing 15 pounds, put the scale in the closet but continue to focus on eating healthy foods and moving as much as you can during the day. Concentrate on what you achieve every day and celebrate your success.

However, there’s one goal that’s more important than ever: quitting smoking, vaping, or any tobacco use.


If You Smoke, Now is a Great Time to Quit

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Even if you think having a cigarette or two can help you get through the day, here’s why there’s never been a better time to quit. Smoking or vaping makes you even more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infections, and there’s evidence that secondhand smoke puts your family members at risk, too. 

We know it can be difficult, but you can do it, and we can put you in touch with resources that can help.


We’re Here for You

It’s natural to feel worried, sad, and lonely right now, but if these feelings start interfering with your ability to get through your daily life or start making you feel bad physically, it may be time to ask for help. To learn more about our Behavioral Health Services, call us at (855) 425-1777

If you have suicidal thoughts and feel like you could be a harm to yourself or others, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255