By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology in collaboration with MU Health Care
MU Health Care is offering a new approach to anyone concerned they may have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Patients from anywhere in the country can have a free consultation with a health care provider through MU Health Care’s virtual urgent care platform. They’re called “video visits”.
MU Health Care is pushing the new COVID-19 online option to anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone that has a camera and audio.
MU Health Care’s chief medical officer, Stevan Whitt, MD, believes virtual doctor’s visits will be important in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
“Us and many other parts of the country think this is an excellent solution to both normal influenza season, as well as instances like COVID-19,” said Whitt. “Patients can get quickly evaluated, get their questions answered, and we can get the sick patients that need to be in a hospital to a hospital, and we can keep the patients who don’t need to be in a hospital safe.”
MU Health Care is testing patients for coronavirus with a drive-through service located in the Mizzou softball stadium parking lot.
“We are opening this as a fast, safe and convenient way to screen people with mild symptoms who do not need to go to the Emergency Department but meet guidelines for testing,” said Jonathan Heidt, MD, MU Health Care emergency physician. “This increases our capacity to care for those with more severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, in our Emergency Department.”
However, the drive-through testing site is intended for patients who have a doctor’s order to be screened for coronavirus. MU Health Care is asking a patient to first be assessed by a provider at a clinic or through a video visit.
Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are eligible for testing include those with a fever, cough and sore throat plus:
- Those with exposure to a known person who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Those who’ve recently traveled to area where community transmission is occurring
People who meet the criteria above and wish to be tested for COVID-19, should first contact their primary care physician or complete a free video visit using MU Health Care’s virtual urgent care platform. Patients should visit MUHealthVideoVisits.org and select the “COVID19” video visit option.
Virtual care is available every day 24/7, and the drive-through is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For people experiencing severe symptoms, they are encouraged to go to an emergency room.
“If people are severely ill and are having difficulty breathing, they should go to the emergency room and should call ahead before arriving,” Heidt said. “This will ensure health care staff are prepared for the individual’s arrival and can minimize their contact with others.”