Tenet Health offers virtual ER visits

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In an effort to continue providing health care services to the Central Coast community in person or on-screen, Tenet Health Central Coast recently announced its newest option for medical care, Tele-ER.

HEALTH CARE OPTIONS Tenet Health Central Coast is now offering the community virtual Tele-ER visits for those unsure of whether to visit the emergency room in-person. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • HEALTH CARE OPTIONS Tenet Health Central Coast is now offering the community virtual Tele-ER visits for those unsure of whether to visit the emergency room in-person.
Patients now have the option to visit the emergency room virtually and can speak to a board-certified emergency room physician 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This option can be accessed with a smartphone, tablet, or computer that has a functioning camera by calling (805) 546-7990 at any time, day or night. At the time of the call, the patient will connect with a Tenet Tele-ER staff member to register and get started with a secure, private, and individualized emergency room evaluation.

The emergency rooms of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Twin Cities Community Hospital are open 24/7 to physically evaluate and treat patient’s emergent and urgent medical conditions, but there are cases in which virtual treatment is possible, according to Brad Knox, chair of emergency medicine and vice chief of staff at Sierra Vista.



“Certain concerns, such as rashes, cellulitis [skin infections], mild upper respiratory infection symptoms, conjunctivitis [pink eye], specific medication refills, visualization of cuts or scrapes to determine if any advanced wound care is needed, and minor dental issues, may all be examples of self-reported conditions by a patient that could be amenable to evaluation through Tele-ER. Of course, there are specific limitations to an audio-visual platform and, quite simply, a majority of concerns will indeed require a physical evaluation and possible testing for further work-up and evaluation,” Knox said.

If a patient does need to go into the emergency department after the virtual visit, more than likely, Knox said, that patient will be seeing the same physician they spoke to on Tele-ER.

The virtual option is another way for the health care corporation to keep hospitals operating as efficiently as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenet Health Central Coast’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Lisa said in a press release.

“Tele-ER provides another solution for families and front-line health care workers, in addition to our hospitals separate COVID safe and COVID care zones,” Lisa said.

It’s also an option for patients who are unsure of visiting the emergency room to get assistance in making that decision.

In instances where a patient needs follow-up care, diagnostic procedures, or lab tests, they will be asked to go to the hospital.

Tenet said that Tele-ER is an evaluation tool for patients seeking emergency care and is not a substitute for calling 9-1-1. ∆

—Karen Garcia

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