I hope this letter finds you healthy and safe. Much has occurred since our last update, so I wanted to try to catch everyone up on where things are for us as a practice. The priority of Buckhead Medicine continues to be the health and well-being of our existing patients. We know that many of you have been dealing with COVID-19 infection with yourself or your family members. We continue to strive to ensure that we are able to provide appropriate and timely medical care for you during the current pandemic. We continue to urge everyone to frequently wash your hands, follow social distancing recommendations, wear masks, and avoid groups of greater than 8 to 10 people.
ADDRESSING THE HIGH DEMAND
As a practice, over the last 2 months, we have experienced unprecedented demands from our patients, particularly those who have been affected by this virus. We have been working continuously to improve our processes and protocols and have hired additional staff to support our established patients. We appreciate your patience through this transition. We have added a new automated receptionist system for high call volumes and have added an overflow support system with a live on-call answering service to assist us. To ensure your call is handled expeditiously, when calling our office, please identify yourself as a concierge patient, as we are currently receiving excessive calls from new or non-established patients and have hired new staff to support our practice and they may not be familiar with all the names of our concierge patients.
I do want to remind you that if you are having any difficulty in reaching me or our staff, please know that for urgent medical matters, that need to be handled immediately, you can always reach me by cell phone or text message at 404-XXX-XXXX. If I am not able to respond to the call or text immediately, I will forward the message to our nurse practitioner or our nursing staff. You can also reach me by email at XX@buckheadmedicine.com. In order to appropriately manage call volumes, however, please always initially reach out to our office main number at 404-257-5585 or use the OHMD application.
ROUTINE LABS PROCESSING AND REPORTING
We are experiencing issues with the reliability of processing and reporting from our long standing commercial lab providers. We believe this is due to high volumes which they are currently experiencing. We are working closely with our lab partners to reduce these occurrences. In certain situations however, we may have to repeat blood draws, as some labs are not being processed as ordered. We apologize for this inconvenient and expect this to improve as our lab partners adjust to the high volume demands.
CHRONIC DISEASE MANAGEMENT AND ANNUAL EXAMS
We are continuing to actively reach out to each one of you to ensure that from a preventive medicine, as well as chronic disease management status, we are addressing your needs and keeping up with appropriate monitoring and treatment. We also are keenly aware that for our elderly or frail patients, annual exams may not be indicated given the current pandemic. For those at greatest risk for contraction of COVID-19, we are deferring a face to face visit unless absolutely necessary. If you have not received a call from us yet, and feel you require more expedited evaluation for an annual exam or for chronic disease management, please reach out to our office.
For annual exams we have successfully implemented a protocol where we initially set up a ZOOM call to go over prior medical history, family history, upcoming screening requirements and any medical concerns or medical complaints you may have. This is followed, usually within a week’s time, by a face-to-face encounter in the clinic, for the physical exam, vital sign measurement, and EKG if needed. During this portion of the encounter we perform blood work and urine collection. We will subsequently set up a phone call to review these labs once resulted. I know these are additional steps for the annual exam, but we believe that by following this protocol, we are able to spend more time in reviewing pertinent history and requiring less face-to-face time in the clinic, thereby decreasing unnecessary exposure.
As far as COVID-19 testing goes, we are working to enhance our testing capacity and increase available options for testing within the practice. We currently have the following COVID-19 testing available:
• COVID-19 Nasal PCR by Quest Diagnostic laboratories, billed to insurance when appropriate, insurance does not always cover this test, turnaround time 10-14 days
• COVID-19 Nasal PCR by Life hope labs, not billed to insurance, expedited turnaround time 2-3 days.
• COVID-19 Serum IgG antibody testing by Quest diagnostic laboratories, billed to insurance when appropriate, turnaround time 2-3 days.
Beginning September 1st, 2020 we will be adding an in-house COVID-19 rapid test:
• COVID 19 in-house rapid testing (ID Now), billed to insurance when appropriate, insurance does not always cover this test, turnaround time 15-20 minutes. This test is not as sensitive as the above Nasal PCR tests, but this test does offer the benefit of rapid results.
INFLUENZA SEASON AND VACCINATION
The Flu season is fast approaching. We believe the presence of both the influenza virus and COVID-19 during this upcoming fall and winter season will likely complicate the clinic presentation and response to treatment for both infections. We continue to strongly encourage that everyone receive the influenza vaccine to protect themselves from Influenza. My recommendation is for vaccination sometime between Mid-September to late October. We will have the Flu vaccine available for administration in our office during this period.
We will get through this together,
Dr. Edward Espinosa
91 W. Wieuca Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342