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Sonora, CA – Instead of sitting in a waiting room during this coronavirus health crisis, Adventist Health has launched virtual visits so patients can talk to their doctor safely from home.

For patients that are anxious about coming to a clinic, especially as the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies, the on-demand, virtual visit service allows doctors to consult with patients remotely through a computer or mobile device.

Adventists Health Sonora officials say these virtual visits also save masks, gowns and key high demand supplies for dealing with the pandemic.

“Our hope is that by making care more accessible, more people will be able to seek care, especially those who may be worried about COVID-19 and those who do not have transportation,” says Michelle Fuentes, Adventist Health Sonora President. “Limiting face-to-face encounters also help protect health workers and support staff who are concerned about their exposure to infected patients who may be visiting clinics.”

All a patient needs for a virtual visit is a smartphone, tablet or computer with a working camera and microphone. Hospital officials instruct that the provider sends an email with a link for the scheduled visit using Microsoft Teams, an easy-to-use, secure platform available as a downloadable or web-based app. Patients are asked to log in 20 minutes prior, so they can answer some intake questions regarding medications and health history.

Clinic staff is contacting patients to reschedule appointments as virtual visits when possible. Also, patients can request to change a scheduled in-person appointment to a virtual visit by contacting their doctor’s office. Most insurance plans cover these visits, according to hospital officials. For more information regarding virtual visits, click here.

A chat tool, accessible 24 hours a day, is also available to check for COVID-19 symptoms and answer questions. All of this information is sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is updated daily. Hospital officials say as they transition to this new online service, the advice line at 844-542-8840 will be deactivated.

The COVID-19 triage line with registered nurses available for local patients concerned they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will remain in place. The line is answered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday by calling 209-536-5166. Hospital officials stress patients who are experiencing an emergency should call 911.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that relaxes certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, so they can provide telehealth services without the risk of being penalized.

“This order provides flexibility to our medical and health providers so that they are able to provide continuity of health services to people across the state, and will allow providers to assess a greater number of patients while limiting the risk of exposure and infection of other persons from in-person consultations,” said Governor Newsom.

A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here.

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