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#WeLiveYes – Trying Telemedicine

Telemedicine Connections in New York with the McCormicks

My name is Amy McCormick.  I have a child with juvenile arthritis and I’m a teacher of students with special needs. My family and I live in New York, one of the states most heavily impacted by COVID-19. While the world slows down and shelter-in-place orders keep people at home, our need to ensure my daughter gets the medical attention she requires for her arthritis hasn’t stopped. Because arthritis doesn’t stop — we’ve been staying on top of Kylie’s care by using telemedicine.

During this time of global pandemic, we have all taken steps to slow down and shift our approach to connecting with the programs and resources we need. For instance, my classroom has shifted to virtual learning, my daughter Kylie completed her second semester of college online rather than in-person, and we have been enjoying the extra time at home training the newest addition to our family, Kylie’s service dog, Cotton. All of these changes to our home and work lives have been accompanied by a shifting landscape in how we access our health care.

In the early part of this crisis, we were experiencing shifts in our health care we already knew would carry a big impact. Our pediatric rheumatologist, who has guided Kylie’s arthritis journey for years, called us to make us aware that her day-to-day would be changing quite a bit as she started seeing all patients rather than just those in her specialty. We are thankful to have a strong relationship with Kylie’s doctor and our first concern when we heard this news was about her health. Would she have the personal protective equipment she needed to stay healthy?

Kylie’s pediatric rheumatologist has been such a force on the frontlines, like so many other medical professionals tackling this crisis head-on.  Her courage to treat patients during these times of uncertainty has made it easy for my family to do our part to keep people healthy by simply staying home.

One day I called the hospital to check in on Kylie’s doctor and to learn how to safely have a rheumatology appointment with her. That’s when I learned our pediatric rheumatologist was offering televisit appointments for the first time. I quickly opted-in for a telemedicine visit — we had never had one before but were told it was as simple as downloading an app on our phones.

It turns out telemedicine appointments are just as easy as dialing in to a Zoom get-together or Skype call. And it wasn’t just my family who felt this way — Kylie’s pediatric rheumatologist felt the same way. The video-visit allowed us to see her doctor without putting ourselves at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.  It was heartening to get to talk with our doctor and hear about her experience while also getting to evaluate Kylie’s most recent lab work, discuss treatment options and especially talk about how we could protect our high-risk loved ones during these times of uncertainty.

As a teacher of students with special needs, I know there is nothing that can replace the in-person time with your doctor, teacher, mentor or boss. But in this situation, I am thankful to see how our industries are shifting to keep us safe. While telemedicine and virtual appointments will never replace the real thing, I’m thankful we have access to my daughter’s doctor through telemedicine. It’s helped us get what we need in a way that has kept my family and my daughter’s doctor safe during these dangerous times.

We also talked about how special it has been to see our state come together to conquer COVID-19. It’s been a really beautiful thing to watch people change their behaviors to keep themselves and their neighbors safe. For instance, we have been able to safely pick up our prescriptions from the pharmacy because our pharmacist will place our prescriptions in the trunk of our car by opening the hatchback — no contact needed. Our groceries have been delivered to our front porch where we’re able to disinfect them safely before bringing them into the house — also, no contact needed. And of course, we have been able to see Kylie’s doctor through the virtual visits — again, no contact needed. With all of these contact-free activities, you’d think that we were feeling isolated from our community, but we’ve actually felt more connected than ever before.

#WeLiveYes by staying home, together. If you have a story of resilience or a question about your care, the Arthritis Foundation is here to help. Share your experience and ask your questions through our #WeLiveYes Storybank. 

 

 

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