I began doing house calls last week (3/16) for coronavirus testing with the expectation of reassuring patients that their symptoms were probably just allergies, influenza or strep. I offered house calls, mainly for medicare patients, before the virus. It was only natural for me to offer them during the pandemic. I was wearing full personal protective equipment during those visits.
Then I realized there are many people with COVID-19 with mild symptoms in Rutherford County. I was overwhelmed with people who were calling and worried. Many stories were that they were told by another provider they had the flu with a negative flu test and could not get a COVID test anywhere else. I immediately tried to see as many of these patients who were young, healthy, with no COVID contacts, and mild symptoms in a short amount of time. I wanted to get their test to the lab and back. Then find a pattern and identify what the mild symptoms look like. After this initial batch of patients, I stopped testing. I want to personally apologize to the patients who were on the list to be seen last week but I wasn't able to make it out to see them. I have tried to call each person directly. If this applies to you, please schedule a telemedicine visit under “COVID initial response list”.
I felt very conflicted. It was so hard for me to look at someone who I'm sure had the virus and say I couldn't test them because I needed to make the supplies last. There is such a shortage. The CDC is recommending to prioritize for testing for specific groups of people. I was worried I had wasted tests on people who were mild cases or might even be negative. At the time, we only had one positive test in Rutherford County. Even the doctor I spoke with at the Health Department was hanging her hat on that number.
The labs are very behind in running tests. It took about a week but the first patient I saw with mild symptoms was positive.
I now feel comfortable identifying the mild cases and managing them. This is why I am offering telemedicine. Not everyone with symptoms needs a test.
My physical office is currently closed and will remain empty for 2 weeks and will be cleaned.
Starting April 6, I will have tests available for the following: healthcare workers, first responders, police, public servants who will be needed in the coming weeks.
Now I am organized and able to move forward in hopefully a meaningful way.
I have telemedicine now up and running for mild symptoms in otherwise young and healthy patients. Please see my online scheduling page for more information.
If you would like to schedule a house call for primary care not related to COVID-19 that can't be performed by telemedicine (needs an actual physical examination) I have added a nurse practitioner to our staff who is happy to see you. You must not have any COVID signs or symptoms. She will still be wearing personal protective equipment during your visit. Please call to schedule this at 615-785-8288
We are able to do this and telemedicine because Governer Lee put an executive order out and many regulations that are being lifted.
If you are experiencing severe shortness of breath, please go to the emergency department. If you are in the high risk categories, please call the coronavirus hotline at: 877-857-2945
Most people will get the virus over the next year. Then it will become like the flu with a season where we see it every year. We hope to have a vaccine and treatment, that is what the quarantining is trying to accomplish.
Here is a good website that shows what flattening the curve really means
-Lydia Seibert, PA-C