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Telemedicine. Just a Substitute or the Real Deal?

 

I am going to start by saying this is part of the evolution of medical care.  We have gradually moved toward patient-centered medical treatment. I listen to old radio shows of Dr. Kildare from the 1950s (and yes, there was a TV show by the same name in the 1960s).  He and his mentor, Dr. Gillespie, had a very paternalistic approach toward patient care. Doctors “knew best” and it had been that way for a long time. There is no doubt, however, that they had the patient’s best interest in mind.

Fast forward to the 21st century and especially the past decade. We started what we called “Patient-Centered Medical Home” with the patient, not the provider at the center of care. We included “shared decision making” to make sure patients were educated about their illness and treatment options and were active participants in the decision-making process.

There has also been a push toward making medical care more convenient for patients. Years ago, this began with more convenient outpatient testing rather than hospital admission for diagnostic, the Minute clinics. Patient portals have allowed patients to review medical notes, check on lab and test results, communicate with physician offices, and even schedule appointments.

Mass General Brighman (formerly Partners Healthcare) had been dabbling in telemedicine (telephone and video visits) for several at Express Care (our urgent care center). It was a fun experience for both the patient and me.   Then came the sentinel event that shook up telemedicine and moved it by leaps and bounds—the Covid-19 pandemic.  At Pentucket Medical, we jumped from a few telemedicine visits to 90% of our usual visit volume. We tried different video platforms and now have Zoom integrated into our electronic medical record.  It is anticipated that 20-30% of medical visits will be by telemedicine even after the pandemic has passed.

Just like moving to patient-centered medicine, patient education shared decision making, and increased convenience for patient visits, telemedicine has the power to put patient needs at the forefront. Many patient concerns can be handled by a good telemedicine visit. Great for elderly frail patients and maybe Great for elderly frail patients and may be  very well suited for behavioral health.

Millennials, being so tech-savvy, will also be happy about the telemedicine options. There is even a term now for bedside manner called “Webside” manner. It is a learning curve for all of us. I view this is as progress that once again puts patients at the center. It seemed to happen in an instant and is here to stay.

Kenneth Adams, MD, FACC
Senior Cardiologist and Medical Director at Pentucket Medical

We Are Here for You.

 

Pentucket Medical is dedicated to keeping our patients, staff, and community members safe as we reopen our practice sites. We are fully prepared to provide you with the care you need while committing to keep you safe every step of the way.

What To Expect At Your Next Visit 

Along with prudent safety measures, your experience at our practice sites may have changed since your last visit.

A face mask is required to be worn throughout your entire visit. Our staff will also be wearing Personal Protective Equipment, which may include a face mask, a face shield, and goggles. 

We ask that you arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before your appointment. This will help reduce the number of patients, visitors, and staff in one area.

You will no longer need to stop at the desk after your visit has ended. You will receive your visit summary electronically. If you need to schedule a follow-up appointment, you may do so by telephone or Patient Gateway. 

It’s Time To Take Care of Your Health

 As we reopen, we are fully prepared to provide you with the care you need in a safe environment.

If you have current care needs, please do not delay your care; waiting can make your symptoms and conditions worse, which may require more complex treatment. From the beginning, our clinicians have been implementing innovative healthcare such as virtual visits (telephone and video), and ExpressCare, and will continue to do so that you and your family will have more options when seeking care. 

We encourage you to contact your clinician’s office to learn more and to schedule a visit if you have any health concerns. Thank you. 

Lawrence Community Covid-19 Testing Center

We are pleased to announce a nine-bay drive-thru Covid-19 testing site located on Canal St in Lawrence.   

This testing site is a collaboration between Lawrence General Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and Pentucket Medical/ MassGeneral-Brigham Health in response to the growing need for testing in the community. 

The initial phase of testing will include LGH patients who are scheduled for upcoming procedures, area healthcare workers, symptomatic residents, and non-area residents who meet the following criteria:

Individuals referred through official contact tracing
Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
Homeless individuals
Health care facility workers with symptoms
First responders with symptoms

Please note that a prescription is needed from your primary care physician in order to be screened. Once that is received an appointment will be scheduled.

CDC Symptom Checker:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Hours of operation:
Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm
Saturdays from 10 am – 2pm
Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm

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Bringing patients and clinicians closer together through the use of technology

By: Garrett Bomba, MD, Chief Physician Executive, Pentucket Medical

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we interact with each other day by day. More social distancing means medical and behavioral health care clinicians are finding new ways to provide care to their patients. The use of telehealth is making that easier.

What does that mean to you?
It means that healthcare is provided over the phone or web so that patients can stay connected to their clinician. These virtual appointments can be used for initial COVID screenings and routine exams as well as help to support those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes- all while at home.

From pediatric visits to seniors who have a question about their prescription medications, the use of telemedicine, by either phone or video provides greater access to a clinician. For many, this has proven to be an invaluable resource and it is anticipated that telemedicine visits will continue once the pandemic is over.

Though telemedicine is providing greater access for patients to clinicians, there are some clinical situations where in person appointments are necessary.

If you have questions about how your plan covers telehealth and telemedicine, reach out to your insurance provider.

To learn more about a virtual appointment click the video below:

ECare now available to all our Primary Care patients

ECare now available to all our Primary Care patients.

Through the Patient Gateway, patients can directly schedule online appointments with their provider for annual physicals, follow up and same-day sick visits.
Once a patient schedules their appointment, the office verifies the appointment and will only make adjustments as needed.

With these enhanced features to the Gateway, patients will also be able to do eCheck-in and pay office visits co-pays in advance. To learn more click the link below:
https://mychart.partners.org/mychart-prd/Authentication/Login?

Note: To participate, patients will need to have an active gateway account and seen within the last three years by the preferred provider or PCP.

Free Blood Pressure Walk-in Clinics this December

 

Hypertension when left untreated is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your numbers is the first step in managing this treatable condition.

During the month of December Pentucket Medical is offering free blood pressure walk-in clinics at the dates/ times below. If you cannot get to one of our locations during these times, you can provide your latest BP numbers by posting them on https://pmaonline.com/patient-guide/patient-gateway/or calling your clinician’s office.

 

 

Cold and Flu Season is Here

With cold and flu season amost here one of the frequently asked questions from patients is, “when should I get vaccinated?” The answer is, you should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

To schedule your flu shot contact your primary care clinician. (Schedule below).

Should you get sick know that you can be treated at one of our ExpressCare locations. (Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence) visit https://pmaonline.com/express-care/ to schedule an appointment online and for site hours.

 

Pentucket Medical Leadership Transition

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Tom Fazio, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Pentucket Medical Associates and John Sarro, Executive Director. Dr. Fazio has been a member of the group for 41 years and Pentucket’s physician leader for the past 30 years. John has been the group’s administrator for 15 years and associated with the Partners HealthCare System for 20 years.   

Both have contributed significantly to the successful growth of Pentucket Medical. Under their leadership, Pentucket Medical has become the premier medical group in Northeast Massachusetts. Join us in thanking Tom and John for their years of tireless commitment and dedication to the patients and the clinical and support staffs of Pentucket Medical and in wishing them well in this next phase of their lives.

We are pleased to announce the following succession and transition plans for Pentucket Medical. Effective October 1, Garrett Bomba, MD will assume the role of Chief Physician Officer, and Jason Khalil will become Executive Director.

Dr. Bomba is board certified in emergency medicine and has been the medical director of ExpressCare the Pentucket Medical urgent care service for the past 8 years. Jason Khalil has served as the Senior Director of Finance for Pentucket Medical for the past 7 years. Both are well respected not only for their professional skills and knowledge but also their commitment to exceptional patient care and a great patient experience.

Please join us in welcoming Garrett and Jason as they assume their new roles.

 

Top: Left to Right: John Sarro, Dr. Tom Fazio Lower: Left to Right: Jason Khalil, Dr. Garrett Bomba

 

 

Reopening

Pentucket Medical has remained committed to ensuring the safety of our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since June 1, we have been treating patients on-site per the four-phase guidance issued to healthcare facilities by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services.

In the coming weeks, we will continue following stringent infection prevention processes and implementing specific precautions to ensure a safe environment for essential patient care services.

Here are some of the changes you will see on your next visit to Pentucket Medical:

When scheduling an appointment with a clinician, you will be provided a phone number to call when you arrive at the office this will allow you to remain safe in your car until it is time to see your provider essentially cutting out waiting rooms

We appreciate your support.