With the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak dominating national news headlines, we asked Jennifer Campbell PA-C with Riverside Village Clinic what her experience has been on a local level in Nashville.
“At Riverside Village Clinic we’re following Center for Disease Control guidelines, but they’re changing almost hourly,” Campbell says. “In the past two weeks, we’ve gone from. ‘Yeah, everybody come on in,’ to ‘No, let’s do everything we can through telemedicine and keep the smallest number of people possible in our waiting area.’ It’s required us to change our approach. We were not even doing telemedicine before this hit. We immediately got on the phone with our electronic medical records people and they were able to set us up.”
Modern telemedicine utilizes video conference software on a phone, tablet or laptop, enabling medical professionals to examine a patent remotely. With the high infection rate of COVID-19 it’s become particularly useful for small, independent clinics like Riverside Village and is helping to reduce the spread of the disease.
“We’re a small clinic, so if one of us tested positive we’d all have to quarantine and shut the clinic down,” Campbell says. “It allows users to still see patients in person for other matters such as physicals and ongoing health management. We’re also seeing a lot of mental health issues [connected to the Coronavirus outbreak], and we’re trying to handle as much of that through telemedicine as we can, which is very doable.”
Campbell says the last two weeks have brought dramatic changes in the way Coronavirus cases are being handled. “We do not do testing on-site,” she says. “We contract with major labs that we send all our tests to and then get a report back. Even though the labs we work with are very large, two weeks ago they didn’t have Coronavirus testing available. Only Vanderbilt and the Tennessee Department of Health had tests available and you had to have a documented fever and shortness of breath along with insurance [in the case of Vanderbilt] to get tested. Over the course of the past week, there have been about 10 more locations open up. We are now referring people to those sites.”
Campbell echoes the official sources regarding which groups of people are at the greatest risk — the elderly and people who are immune-compromised. Just because you’re young and healthy however, does not mean you are not at-risk, and observing the same precautions as others will make a great difference in stopping the spread of the disease.
“Go the grocery if you need something but please, do not hoard,” Campbell says. “We need to make sure everybody has everything they need, People should pay attention to what the CDC is saying and follow their guidelines strictly. Keep your hands washed, that’s the number one thing you can do to prevent spread. If you have any cold-like symptoms just stay home; do not say ‘It’s just a cold’ and go out anyway. If you have symptoms [a fever, cough, or shortness of breath] stay home and do not go out until your fever has been gone at least three days and your symptoms have improved and you have tested negative for the virus. The main reason to go to an emergency room is a fever that you cannot get down with Tylenol and shortness of breath. I’ve been practicing for about 20 years and we’ve lived through things like SARS, Ebola, the swine flu and the bird flu but I’ve never have seen anything like this.”
Riverside Village Clinic located at 1406 B McGavock Pike. Contact them at 615.810.9595 or through their website at 615.810.9595. For up-to-date information on the Coronavirus visit the CDC website or the Tennessee Department of Health.