SCV health care providers remind residents it is safe to come in

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Dan Watson/The Signal

While many health care providers have postponed non-emergent appointments and transitioned to telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic, health care providers in the Santa Clarita Valley say they are continuing to safely deliver the medical care patients need.

“We want everyone in our community to know that, in addition to taking care of COVID-19 patients, we are also continuing to care for patients who have other health conditions, as we always do,” Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said via email.

At the hospital, patients either suspected of having COVID-19 or confirmed positives are kept isolated from other patients in the emergency department, as well as throughout the hospital, Moody said.

“It is safe to come to Henry Mayo for care,” Moody added. “If someone has an urgent medical need, we strongly encourage them to come to Henry Mayo and get the care they need without delay.”

While Kaiser Permanente has temporarily closed some of its medical office buildings in the Santa Clarita Valley in order to consolidate its resources, the urgent care facilities in Santa Clarita and Panorama City remain open, according to Dr. David Witt, a national infectious disease leader at Kaiser.

“While we cannot release specific numbers (of occupancy) because they fluctuate on a daily basis, we want to reassure our members that we are working tirelessly to address their health concerns and deliver the medical care they need,” Witt said via email.

Many of Kaiser’s non-emergency appointments are either being postponed or converted to virtual visits, while non-urgent surgeries and procedures have been temporarily postponed as well.

“These new measures are being enacted … to ensure we have the capacity and equipment to care for the potential of more critically ill patients and to guide members to virtual care options to reduce demand for in-person visits to our medical offices,” Witt said.

To better serve its patients, Exer Urgent Care has launched “VirtualCare by Exer,” an online urgent care service that provides real-time access to a doctor via video chat.

With the platform, which can be accessed via smartphone, tablet or computer, patients do not need an appointment and Exer’s team of medical providers can provide them with quick diagnosis, advice and treatment, with prescribed medications sent directly to the pharmacy of their choice. 

While Exer’s SCV urgent care facilities remain open, new measures have been put in place to increase patient safeguards against COVID-19, such as welcoming patients directly into an examination room or asking them to wait in their car until they are called, as well as self-swab practices. 

Similarly, Providence Express Care Virtual allows patients to be seen virtually by board-certified health professionals, who can treat and diagnose by online video.

Providence has also developed an online coronavirus assessment tool to assess patients’ risks and connect them to a provider virtually when necessary. 

As a safety precaution, Providence has instituted visitor restrictions at all locations. 

“At this time, we ask patients and their families to consider communication through phone and video chat as their primary means of communication,” a statement on their website read.

Though Northeast Valley Health Corp. continues to provide essential health services for patients who require immediate medical attention at all of its health centers, non-urgent services are being rescheduled or managed through telephone visits with medical providers and staff until in-person visits can be resumed. 

Other services, such as referrals to specialists and prescription refills, are still available and can be managed over the phone, according to the NVHC website.

In light of COVID-19, Samuel Dixon Family Health Center is offering free telehealth support groups for teens and adults, available in both English and Spanish.

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