Virtual Health Emerges as Safe Choice for Seniors During COVID-19

Virtual Health
Print icon

An older woman was worried about a cat bite she had that wasn’t healing and she feared going to her doctor’s office.

Jessica Dakin, Geriatric Care Program Manager of Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, checked on her client at home and realized it was a medical problem that could be addressed through a virtual video visit with the physician. It wasn’t long before the wound was assessed, antibiotics were prescribed and the woman was on her way to healing.

This case is one of thousands of examples of how Hartford HealthCare Community Network has been using virtual health, or telemedicine. The latter term, first used in 1968, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the practice of medicine when the doctor and patient are widely separated using two-way voice and visual communication.” It is impossible to calculate the number of times this method has been used since it was first defined.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual visits have been skyrocketing. In the Hartford HealthCare system, there were more than 100,000 real-time health consultations in a two-month period. Of these, almost 5,000 users were new to virtually connecting with their physician.

Each of the service lines within Hartford HealthCare Community Network has found the telemedicine extremely helpful. Among those using it are the assisted living communities: Mulberry Gardens of Southington, The Orchards at Southington and Cedar Mountain Commons as well as the skilled nursing facilities including Southington Care Center, Jefferson House and Jerome Home (which is managed by Hartford HealthCare Senior Services).

Virtual care is available through computer, smartphone or tablet. The physician’s office establishes a video conferencing connection with the patient, allowing both parties to be able to see each other. It can be used for primary care visits, common problems and prescription refills. But it is not appropriate for severe problems or emergencies – in those instances, an in-person office or emergency department visit may be warranted.

Telehealth consultations are not only more convenient, they are safer for patients and providers. Dakin usually transports and accompanies her clients from the home to their physicians’ in-person appointments.

“Most of my clients are glad to be able to see their provider even if it is just over the screen,” Dakin said. “This gives better access to care especially when leaving the home can be a challenge.”

Mulberry Gardens just started using the virtual method. Recently, an 81-year-old woman had a follow-up “visit” facilitated by Megan Nawrocki of the Wellness Department. Mulberry Gardens Executive Director Jacquelyn Gaulin said she anticipates it will become more common even after societal restrictions are lifted.

At Southington Care Center, providers have been using the video connection for wound assessments between the physician, resident and wound-care nurse.

“We absolutely will continue to use this,” said William Kowalewski, Executive Director of Southington Care Center.

Telehealth is also being used for behavioral health and urgent care, as well as pharmacy consultations. Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network has been using it for outpatient visits, allowing therapists to guide patients as they perform exercises at home rather than physically going to an actual office.

Hartford HealthCare medical practices are able to arrange virtual visits. To connect with a provider or to learn more about using telehealth, click here.

 

 


What's New

Bliss Beam-Signing

Beam-Signing Marks Progress of Hartford Hospital Expansion

HARTFORD—With COVID-19 cases rising in other parts of the country and an increasing need for critical care beds in hotspots like Florida and Arizona, Hartford HealthCare marked a milestone July 10 that will help the health system be even more prepared for future outbreaks in Connecticut. Hartford HealthCare and Hartford...

Fecal transplant

COVID-19 Weight-Gain Assessment: BMI vs. Body Fat vs. Waistline

For three months, Connecticut gyms were closed and people spent more time inside their homes, with “quarantine baking” a popular pandemic pastime. Sales of candy, carbohydrate-rich foods and alcohol soared since stay-at-home orders were issued at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. While many people joke about putting on the...

Mobile Testing

Hartford HealthCare Hits 100,000 Tests, Highlighting Critical COVID-19 Tool

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages elsewhere in the country, Hartford HealthCare reached a milestone by hitting the 100,000-test mark, a feat officials say has helped keep Connecticut’s infection rate at less than 1 percent. “Testing is absolutely vital to containment,” said Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks. “We will...

Dr. Linette Rosario

Millennial Doctor: Why Millennials Need a Primary Care Physician

What happens when millennials get their own health insurance plan? Unfortunately, not enough. They’re much less likely than Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) to have a primary care physician. Dr. Linette Rosario is a primary care physician with the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Bridgeport. She’s also a...

Frustrated woman worried about problem sitting on sofa with laptop

Fatigued From Bad News? 5 Ways to Tune Out

As responsible citizens, we like to watch the news, but the stress of pandemics, racism, protests that can spark looting or tear-gassing, and an ugly election season makes it a stressful experience. We turn the news on each evening or read it in papers, magazines or websites. Meanwhile, the feelings...

Connecticut College

Conn College Adding Health Services, Sports Medicine From Hartford HealthCare

There’s a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care location a few minutes off the Connecticut College campus in New London, but a new partnership brings high-quality, comprehensive healthcare even closer for students and faculty. Hartford HealthCare (HHC) and Connecticut College announced a partnership July 8 designed to enhance student health services and...