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Health care providers in the Piedmont are trying to make it easier to connect with patients.

For several weeks, hospitals have seen lower patient volumes than they typically see this time of year.

“That’s been a consistent trend since the pandemic started,” Wake Forest Baptist Health Vice-Chair of Emergency Medicine Dr. Michael Fitch said. “And since we all started preparing to make sure we could keep everyone safe in our emergency departments during this time. But our patient volumes for all kinds of complaints, whether it’s respiratory or virus related or just regular medical complaints that need emergent care, are lower than usual for this time of year.”

This is the case, even as cases of COVID-19 have climbed in Forsyth County. Over the weekend the Forsyth County Department of Public Health reported the caseload grew to 268 with 131 people recovered. 

Doctors with Wake Forest Baptist Health says part of the reason for the increase is because testing is increasing, even for people who don’t need to stay in the hospital.

“Well, here in our local communities, we have been prepared for and we’re taking steps to make sure that we are ready for higher than usual volumes for this entire time,” Fitch said. “And of course, as we’ve talked about those higher volumes have not come. We are still prepared and ready for those higher volumes if they do come. In fact I hope patients won’t stay home if they have something that they’re concerned about and that needs to be seen in an emergency because we’re ready to take care of them.”

To help see patients with non life threatening situations that still need immediate care, Wake Forest Baptist Health is now offering Telehealth visits for the emergency department.

“We’re the first hospital in this area that’s able to have telehealth for emergency room visits. And that’s just one more way that we want to make sure that patients are able to start their visit or even complete their entire visit virtually if it’s the kind of problem we can help with that modality,” he said.

This is a good option for people who have a more common emergency that does not need immediate care from a physician.

“But some of the more common emergencies and urgent problems that people have might not need to take an ambulance take you to the emergency department, and maybe you don’t need to be seen in the next half hour but want to be taken care of today, those are the ones that you can call in and start with telehealth consultation,” Fitch said. “Our providers will let you know if it’s something you need to come into the emergency departments, or if it’s something we can see later in the day and we can direct you to one of our emergency departments that has appropriate space, and location, and ability to take care of you quickly.”

For patients that do need to come in, the hospital staff can direct you to a department that has the best space, location, and ability to best serve you to help make your visit easier as well.

If you want to schedule a Telehealth visit for a non-life-threatening situation, you can call 1-844-wf-tel-ed or 1-888-93-835-33 Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. to schedule an appointment.