Avera Medical Minute: Virtual doctor visits meet healthcare needs during pandemic

Published: May. 3, 2020 at 12:27 PM CDT
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Orren Lee and his wife Carole still enjoy each other's company. After 49 years of marriage and during the pandemic, they're doing something new, staying safely at home for six weeks and counting.

"We pass the time. We play a lot of gin rummy," said Orren.

They talk about memories.

"He was a radio operator on a B-24, running missions, out of Italy during the war, and he took the US radio school training here in Sioux Falls, but he's from North Dakota," said Carole.

After the service, Orren made Sioux Falls his home, working for Terrace Park Dairy Dairy and had his own trucking company. "And then I got old," said Orren. However, at 96, he is still ready to try new things. Orren just logged into the Avera Now app for his first virtual doctor visit.

"As soon as they asked if we would do it. I said yes because we had already done virtual with our family," said Carole.

"It was easy if you know how to run a computer, and I don't know how but my wife did," said Orren.

So they sat in front of their computer and went over medications for Orren's AFib with Dr. Mark List. "And just doing a face to face visit, but using the internet instead of, you know, in person," said Dr. List.

Virtual visit availability goes beyond doctor and patient visits. "So Avera has been a leader in eCARE for a long time, and you know we've been using eCARE to connect to other ER's or hospitals, we have an ER program and eICU program and the long term care and the pharmacy program," said Dr. List.

The virtual visits have other benefits, including less time traveling or time in the clinic waiting room. There is no risk of being around others who could be ill when visiting in person. "People who have actually enjoyed it, maybe even more than a physical presence," said Dr. List.

Virtual visits through Avera Now is another tool for Orren's health.

"I have had good health all my life, but I've seen some bumps and it's the medical community in my life that have really helped me keep going. Yes, nurses, state-of-the-art hospitals," said Orren.

Just like Orren's medication review, Dr. List also sees patients for many things like blood pressure monitoring, diabetic reviews, and even rashes.

"People have just shown me their skin or zoomed into the rash," said Dr. List. "Virtual visits are a way that patients can still connect and talk about their symptoms talk about what's going on in their life talk about their medical problems without that fear of coming in and being exposed to other people in the clinics and hospitals."