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Coronavirus COVID-19 Local News

Stay Home or Go to the ER? Hospitals Treat Mild COVID Symptoms Virtually

Image courtesy of Baptist Health System.

New Braunfels’ Resolute Hospital and Baptist Health System want to save you an unnecessary trip to emergency rooms already packed with people who have COVID-19 symptoms.

They’ve set up a new “Tele-ER” platform which serves as a virtual ER health-evaluation program. It’s offered for adults experiencing non-life-threatening illness who need immediate diagnosis by an emergency-room professional.

The program, which was unveiled earlier this year, is the first of its kind in the San Antonio area, according to Baptist Health System.

“We are seeing many patients in the ER who are experiencing mild symptoms that could be COVID, but who may be better off seeing their primary care physician or an urgent care,” said Michael Cline, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital CEO, in a statement. “We don’t want to discourage anyone from going to the ER if they need to, but our Tele-ER service could help them determine if they need to be seen emergently or if they can go to an urgent-care clinic or see their own doctor.”

Dr. John Tully, medical director of Baptist Health System’s emergency departments, said the service quickly helps people connect with a healthcare professional.

Anyone can call and speak to a nurse for free. All that is needed is a smartphone, laptop or desktop computer.

During a Tele-ER session, an emergency room nurse will complete an ER triage assessment to determine if a patient qualifies for a virtual visit or should visit the ER in person. Nurses will either schedule Tele-ER visits with an ER physician or refer patients to the nearest ER. If patients can’t drive, nurses will contact 911 to arrange transportation.

“It is important, especially during this pandemic, that we offer patients more options for safe care and evaluation,” Tully said.

If a patient fits the criteria for a Tele-ER visit, they will be connected to staff who will collect insurance information/payment such as co-pay or self-pay and will schedule appointments.

The Tele-ER hotline is 210-297-5033. More information is available at BaptistHealthcareSystem.com. Click on “Schedule a Tele-ER appointment” button on the home page.

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