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Treasure Coast Medical Associates says lifted telemedicine restrictions already making a difference

Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 11:26:59-04

STUART, Fla. — With so many more families in need of medical advice, more people are going online instead of waiting in lines.

Virtual doctor's appointments are increasing one day after President Trump expanded telemedicine access to help stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Treasure Coast Medical Associates includes Stuart Urgent Care, Okeechobee Urgent Care and Highlands Urgent Care.

Chief Operations Officer Kelly Adelberg said that now when a person makes a call to schedule an in-person appointment at one of their medical facilities, doctors or medical staff are now able to give more patients than ever the option to use telemedicine.

"The patient has no contact," Adelberg said. "It's only face-to-face on our telemedicine portal where the patient is actually able to go, see the provider, get treated, pick up their medication and stay out of the public."

The patient can also speak to a doctor over the phone if they do not have visual communication capabilities, such as FaceTime or Skype.

The physician on the phone can review medication use, medical history, allergies and evaluate a patient's symptoms. From home, patients can also take their own temperature and share the results with the doctor.

This keeps patients from having to visit medical facilities that are working to preserve medical supplies, practice social distancing, and prevent the spread of any kind of illness.

"We're trying to keep people that are not really that sick," Adelberg said. "We're trying to keep them at home where they can stay well instead of having to get out and get sick with the sick people at the clinics."

Dr. Jonathon Adelberg, CEO of Treasure Coast Medical Associates, said he is pleased with President Donald Trump's actions. It will help better protect those vulnerable to illness, like the elderly, he said.

The lifted restrictions on telemedicine help expand who is able to use telemedicine, which medical facilities can use telemedicine, allow doctors to use their personal phones to talk to patients and allow Medicare patients to use telemedicine at no cost.

"It will keep a lot of people out of the hospital," Jonathan Adelberg said. "It will keep a lot of people off the streets."

He treats a lot of conditions through telemedicine, which does not require a hospital visit.

"Urinary tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, coronavirus counseling, aches and pains, a lot of things can be sorted out by just talking to the patients," he said.

They can also follow health department guidelines for screening for possible coronavirus patients over the phone by asking specific questions.

"Have you been to China? Have you been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus? There are criteria you have to meet in order to get tested," Kelly Adelberg said. "If someone calls in through the telemedicine or comes into the urgent care and they meet that criteria, we can tell them to go to the hospital."

Jonathan Adelberg said another benefit is that the average telemedicine call is just three to seven minutes.

To contact the Treasure Coast Medical Associates telemedicine hotline, call 863-484-8494.