Coronavirus, Pregnancy, Telemedicine
You’ve heard a lot about COVID-19, but what’s true? Read on as Dr. Rubino of the Rubino OB/GYN Group shares his take on how women’s healthcare is adapting to and overcoming some of the challenges presented by the pandemic.
The greatest challenge is to remain hyper vigilant around infection control protocols in order to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff. We want our patients to feel safe when accessing care, and we need our teams to remain healthy so that we can continue to serve the needs of our patients. The pandemic has really heightened our own awareness of safety, and has made us more prepared than ever before. It’s forced us to change a number of our protocols in office, some of which may remain in effect long after the pandemic.
We’re now spacing out timing of appointments to ensure minimal contact and fewer individuals in an office at one time. We’re providing specific instruction around physical distancing, including offering for patients to wait in their cars as opposed to waiting rooms. We’ve been disinfecting the office frequently, limiting visitors, ensuring the use of masks, and so on. And of course, we’re offering telemedicine so that those who don’t need to physically be in person to receive care can still obtain guidance from a provider without leaving home.
Telemedicine is an extension of the traditional exam room, and there’s a lot we can determine and diagnose by interacting with a patient both visually and verbally through videoconference. There is significant nuance in a patients’ expressions when communicating symptoms on interview that can be captured this way. Additionally, legendary physician William Osler coined the statement, “Listen to your patient, she is telling you the diagnosis,” meaning many of the answers can come from the patients’ medical history and through simply listening to what that patient is telling you.
Of course, there are some situations in which only a live, in-person visit makes sense, but a wide spectrum of women’s health conditions can be addressed remotely via conversation, speaking about a patients’ history, and taking the time to understand what they are experiencing. It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic for telemedicine to become a more practical and viable option for patients, but it’s likely not going away. It’s the future of modern medicine.
Most obviously, cooperating with social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines are important, so considering telemedicine for certain prenatal appointments is wise. But ultimately, most of the guidance we provide is no different than that for the general population. Wear a mask, wash your hands often, try not to touch your face. Generally, be safe and cautious. Some women may be comforted in the fact that, while research is still limited, COVID-19 does not seem to pose a risk to pregnant women that would be greater than that of the general population. Vertical transmission (to the baby) has not yet been proven to occur when a mother tests positive for COVID-19.
It’s always been my belief that delivering a baby at home is similar to driving a car without a seatbelt. While it’s rare that you’ll need the seatbelt, you’re certainly very grateful in an emergency or unexpected event to have worn it. I see the hospital with all its resources – rapid anesthesia, access to operating rooms, modern obstetric and neonatal care, skilled professionals and nursing care – as an incredibly valuable safety net. I tell patients that even despite the pandemic, those life-saving benefits outweigh the inconvenience of limited hospital visitors, or the minimal risk of obtaining the virus in the labor and delivery unit. My interest lies with ensuring a healthy mom and healthy baby. Hospitals that are both licensed and accredited remain safe places to give birth, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, truly, offer the best resources and technology to ensure successful delivery and recovery.
At the Rubino OB/GYN Group, our philosophy is simple. We put our patients first, and always provide intelligent, respectful care. Our diverse and expert staff enables our patients to find a clinician they can connect with to speak to their individual needs with specificity and expertise. We are proud to be members of the Axia Women’s Health community, and are ready to start a deep and ongoing dialogue with you to promote your life-long health. Schedule your next visit with us today!
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