Primary Care During COVID-19: Answers to Your Questions

St. Luke's Emergency Department

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Pediatric Urgent Care - Cedar Rapids

855 A Avenue NE
Suite 300A
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peck's Landing)

1940 Blairs Ferry Road
Suite 104
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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Urgent Care - Anamosa

1795 Hwy 64 East
Anamosa, Iowa 52205

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Urgent Care - Hiawatha

1001 N. Center Point Road
Suite A
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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Urgent Care - Marion

2992 7th Ave.
Marion, Iowa 52302

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Urgent Care - Westside

2375 Edgewood Rd SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

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Primary Care During COVID-19: Answers to Your Questions

Are UnityPoint Clinics open?
Yes, all of our primary care clinics (including family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics) are open. Our specialty clinics are also still open as well. We have temporarily closed our Hiawatha Urgent Care. This was done to allow us to better staff 2 clinics for our patients that are sick with respiratory symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, etc). The rest of our traditional Urgent Care clinics and our UnityPoint Express clinic are open during their normal business hours.
What should patients do if they are concerned that they might have COVID?
Patients should start by contacting their primary care provider’s office. They can be scheduled for a telephonic or virtual visit. If their provider feels that the patient needs to have further evaluation in person, the patient will be scheduled to be seen at the respiratory clinic. Some patients may meet specific criteria and just need to have a sample taken to test them for COVID. Those patients are sent to a separate location where the patient actually stays in the parking lot to have the sample obtained. Our respiratory clinics are safe to visit. We have very specific procedures that are followed to keep out patients, staff, and providers all safe.
Do our physicians and providers have the availability and access to care for their normal patients?
Yes. We have enough providers in the hospital for our sickest patients. Our Emergency Departments are staffed and capable of taking care of patients with concerns for pneumonia, for COVID, heart attacks, strokes, etc. Our outpatient clinics are still staffed with our normal healthcare providers, nurses, and staff. We have the access and time to still help our patients.
5. Should our patients be having visits with their primary care providers?
Yes. It is still important for our patients to have visits with their providers.
  • Patients need to be working with their providers to help them manage their chronic conditions. 
  • Many people have had worsening of their anxiety due to COVID. Depression can be increased by social isolation. We can help deal with these problems.
  • It is important for patients, especially our pediatric patients, to be seen and have their needed immunizations. If we miss these we put ourselves ask risk for preventable illnesses.
  • Some people are delaying care for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and cellulitis. It important for these problems to be addressed sooner rather than later. Delaying care is likely to put patients at increased risk of needing to be hospitalized.

6. You mentioned earlier that there are different visit types. What should patients expect with the different types of visits?Telephone visits are one option. Patients have a specific time on a schedule when they can expect the visit to start. A nurse in the clinic calls at that time and will confirm the medications that the patient is taking and confirm their allergies. The patient is put on a brief hold, and the provider will be notified that the patient is ready for them. The provider will talk with the patient about their concerns. These telephone only visits still allow providers to help with a variety of problems. Much of what our providers do can be done without a physical examination. Listening to our patients about their acute injuries, how they are working on their chronic conditions, and how their mood is doing. We are able to give advice and make recommendations on how to improve their health. Prescriptions can still be sent, as needed.Virtual visits add a visual component to the encounter between the patient and the provider. With the virtual visit, patient will still have a specific time on the schedule when they can expect the visit to begin. When we are scheduling that visit, our scheduler will send the patients an email that has a “link” in it to enable the video visit. 10-15 minutes before a patient’s scheduled visit, the patient should click on that link. That will start the visit. Patients will be asked a few questions to answer on the computer. Our nurse will then call the patient. They will go through the same process about asking for the reason for the visit, and confirming medications and allergies. When the nurse is done with their portion, they will notify the provider. The provider will then click on a link on their computer that will connect them with the patient. The computer will be used for the audio and visual component of the encounter. Adding the visual component allows us to have a visit even closer to normal. It also allows us to be able to better look at skin rashes and lesions, to assess for swelling in legs, and see if patients are having increased work from breath. Any necessary prescriptions can be sent to the pharmacy. The patient will then end the encounter by closing the window on their screen. We have found virtual visits to be a very convenient way for patients to get the care they need. For instance, we had one patient join us for his visit from the cab of his tractor.

Is it safe for our patients to go to their doctor’s office? Yes. Before patients are allowed to come to the clinic, they will be asked some screening questions to make sure they don’t have symptoms of infection.
  • When patients get to the clinic, they are asked to stay in their car to allow social distancing. They are given a number to contact the clinic to let them know they are there.
  • When the nurse is ready for them, they meet the patient at the door and take them back to a room for their visit.
  • We ask all patients to wear a mask or something to cover their mouth and nose.
  • All of our employees will be wearing masks. Our nurses and providers are wearing face shields, in addition to the mask.
  • When the encounter is done, patients are escorted from the clinic.
  • The room is then carefully cleaned after every patient.

7. How have patients reacted to the telephonic and virtual visits?
a. We have had great reactions on both visit types. Patients enjoy being able to talk to their provider without having to come into the clinicThey like to be able to hear and see their provider. Some have reported that they did their hair for the first time in a week or more. They are able to have some social interaction, and have reassurance from their trusted care provider

Belle Plaine Farmer Embraces Virtual Visits