The following content is created in partnership with Virginia Hospital Center. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington's editorial staff. Click here to learn more about Virginia Hospital Center.

Even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic, people need access to their healthcare providers for acute and chronic medical problems. After all, you don’t stop being diabetic, having high blood pressure, or being pregnant. As concerned as everyone is about the COVID-19 coronavirus, regular healthcare must continue.

That’s why VHC Physician Group is now offering Telehealth Visits—scheduled appointments conducted via telephone or video for both established and new patients. “One of the many benefits of Telehealth is that patients can remain in the safety of their homes and receive consultations from primary care providers and specialists for acute and chronic medical conditions,” says Dr. Chris Walsh, chief medical officer for the Division of Primary Care, VHC Physician Group.

Patients can choose whether they prefer to have a Telehealth Visit by telephone or video. “Some conditions are better addressed over video, such as skin rashes, lumps, pink eye, and even a sore throat,” says Dr. Hong Hanh Nguyen, of the VHC Physician Group–Primary Care Arlington. “In cases of back pain or muscle strains, we can see where the patient is having pain and evaluate their range of motion.” Conditions such as chest, abdominal, and ear pain, as well as preoperative medical clearance evaluations, require in-person visits.

Since this new program was introduced in March, VHC Physician Group providers have also consulted with patients who potentially have COVID-19 symptoms via Telehealth. As a result of their virtual visits, they may be given an order to get tested at the VHC drive-through site for COVID-19 sample collection—or they may be triaged for emergency care.

“Telehealth is also an effective venue for mental health,” says Dr. Walsh. “We’ve held virtual visits with many patients about anxiety, depression, and insomnia—conditions that are even more prevalent during this challenging time. Patients who are already anxious can have a private medical consult from their homes.”

Telephone and Video Visits are also available from all of the VHC Physician Group’s medical and surgical practices for patients seeking medical care from a specialist—whether established patients or new patients seeking consults for recent diagnoses.

Schedulers at VHC Physician Group practices are specially trained to walk patients through the process of setting up a Telehealth Visit. At the patient portal MyVHC, patients complete an online symptom form to alert doctors of their concerns in advance. A family member or caregiver can also participate in the phone or video visit to ensure that all questions are answered and that the doctor’s instructions are understood.

Telehealth Visits may be a new technology for delivering healthcare, but the diagnostic techniques used by doctors are as old as the practice of medicine. “Before the advent of many of the rapid tests available today, doctors made clinical diagnoses by listening to our patients’ stories,” says Walsh. “Providers should use their clinical judgment in place of the readily accessible ancillary testing that we’ve become reliant on to make a diagnosis. Doctors are up to the challenge.”

Due to the current declaration of a federal national emergency, Telehealth Visits may be covered by government and private insurance. Please check with your insurance provider about your coverage.

For information on scheduling a Telehealth Visit, call 703.717.7100 or click here. To learn more about Virginia Hospital Center, click here.

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