Medical providers across the country are reminding patients that the coronavirus is not the only illness they should be worried about. Monitoring chronic conditions, especially in the midst of a pandemic, is crucial to health and longevity.
Access Health Louisiana, which operates two community health centers in St. Charles Parish, is encouraging patients to put their individual healthcare first during this pandemic. The Luling health center is located at 843 Milling Avenue, and the Norco center is located at 16004 River Road. Both serve as the public health unit for the parish.
“Patients who are in good health are in a better position to fight COVID-19 should they contract the disease,” AHL Director of Outreach and Development Chenier Reynolds-Montz said. “In fact, many cities across the country are seeing a higher number of deaths in chronically ill patients due to a fear of seeking care during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
AHL is actively reaching out to patients, especially those chronically ill, and encouraging them to continue their regularly scheduled appointments.
“We are even offering telemedicine visits where patients can talk to their provider via a smartphone, tablet or computer from the safety and convenience of their home,” Reynolds-Montz added. “For patients without a smartphone, they can still schedule a visit with their provider and talk to them by phone if the feel they have symptoms of COVID-19.”
Patients requiring medication to manage their health can have prescriptions delivered to their home by using AHL pharmacy’s free home delivery service.
To ensure the youngest in the parish stay healthy, AHL centers are designating specific days and times when only children are seen in clinics.
“We are designating two mornings a week at each of our community health centers where parents can bring their child in for immunizations,” Reynolds-Montz said. “Only patients with scheduled appointment times will be allowed in, and only one non-symptomatic parent or guardian will be allowed in with the child for their visit.”
She said immunization appointments are being scheduled for children of all ages.
“Temperatures checks are taken at the door, patient and parent are masked and families are asked to limit the number of people into the clinic during appointments,” Reynolds-Montz said. “These precautions, along with enhanced cleaning protocols, will help keep everyone safe.”
Reynolds-Montz said The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents to continue their child’s vaccination schedule, despite the pandemic.
“As states begin to open up and families move about in their community, we are afraid that we could see outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and other diseases that can spread very rapidly and be deadly for children,” AAP President Sally Goza, M.D., FAAP, said. “It’s important that parents work with their pediatrician now to get all children caught up on their vaccines.”
Another concern with the pandemic is the impact on the nation’s mental health.
“Our routines and relationships define us and when that is challenged, we feel alone and experience a sense of loss,” AHL Vice President of Behavioral Health and Human Services Dr. Jan Kasofsky said. “Aside from the loss of routines, we fear for our health and for those we love, our jobs, our income and we grieve for the ones we have lost.”
Reynolds-Montz said AHL therapists offer individual and group virtual therapy sessions, where patients can meet others who are dealing with the same experiences and feelings.
“Patients who try group virtual therapy or individual therapy love it and say that it really helps them feel better and learn how to cope,” Kasofsky said. “If you are a caregiver, first responder or a medical provider, you have the added stress and strain of long shifts, your own concerns for your exposure to the virus and concerns of infecting others … we can help.”
The AHL website features videos aimed at educating patients on how to access telemedicine services, as well as what information someone should have ready when seeing their provider virtually over the phone or computer. There are also educational videos tailored for diabetic and hypertensive patients. All materials can be accessed at www.accesshealthla.org.
To schedule an appointment at an Access Health center, call 985-785-5800 for the Luling clinic or 985-307-1600 for the Norco clinic. To contact the AHL pharmacy, call 985-785-5826.