House Calls

House Calls Started This Year

House calls are meant for patients who are temporarily or permanently home bound, or for other good reasons can't make it into the office.

To schedule a house call: Tel (203) 853-1919; email

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Vaccine & Virtual Visits Work

 To My Patients, 

Emailed to patients 1/27/2021

Hope the holiday season went well, and that you're staying safe - it has sure been challenging for some. COVID is still with us in full force, a year since it started and continues to claim a large number of lives daily. 

I hate to say this as a letter opener, but if you look at daily mortality statistics in the US, you'll see that the daily number one cause of death in the US is not heart disease or stroke, it's not cancer, it's COVID-19! 

With the emergence of more rapidly spreading COVID mutations, and with the terrible daily cost of lives, it behooves each one of us to play his/her part in the defeat of this disease. 

The drive to vaccinate the population is on, but it's awfully slow and handled differently in different parts of the US. As of now, Connecticut is not in a position to be proud of how the vaccine issue has been managed. The State could, and should, do better. 

This only adds to the reason why we have to be so vigilant about social distancing and other safety guidelines, and to avoid contact with those who don't comply. It's a reason to be tested repeatedly for the active infection, and in many cases also for the antibody, and encourage those around us to do the same. It tells us to be vaccinated against COVID as soon as possible. If you have questions about vaccines, please email me. 

** Vaccine Eligibility
When the vaccine becomes available to you and you have no medical contraindications, please take it! I say this even though we are not sure how long the immunity will last or if there will be unforeseen long term side effects. Sandy and I already took the first dose. 

Looking for your eligibility to receive the vaccine in Connecticut? It's at Connecticut COVID 19 Response. 

** More About Telemedicine
Interestingly, an article just appeared in the Mass General "advances@MGH" about use of telemedicine in combination with what turned out to be a markedly reduced in-person visits. It looks like a positive move in the direction of "longitudinal health care delivery," which is what patients with chronic health conditions need. The paper came from their Cardiology Department and I'm sure it's implemented elsewhere. This is exactly what we've been doing at our practice for the last year. 

If you need a virtual visit, please call us to schedule an appointment: 203-853-1919. 

** Some Other Things to Think About
While we're all busy thinking about it, COVID is not everything, there are other, long-term health concerns.
  • If you have high blood pressure, have a home blood pressure machine and take your blood pressure regularly as dictated by your needs. There are some very good BP machines on the market, but they all have to be checked against the standard Mercury manometer like the ones we use in the office. I have some favorite models. I don't "promote" their names publicly, but I'll share my experience with you if you wish - call or email for a suggestion.
  • If you have diabetes, make sure you have a finger stick glucose meter, and use it regularly as instructed.
  • If you have COPD, severe asthma, or other respiratory disease (including active COVID), it may be worth getting a finger oximeter, available online.
  • If you have issues concerning irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation or other irregularities), pulse monitors are now available that can capture the irregularity and email it to the physician.
The availability of these devices, and many others which are surely in the pipeline, will help maintain a balance between the need for an in-person office visit and a virtual visit, both now and after COVID is defeated. I just hope that insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, will realize the advantage of it and continue to pay for virtual visits to the benefit of patients, the providers, the insurance companies themselves, and the health system as a whole. 

** Some Common Questions
Now a few answers to question I get frequently:
  • CoQ10 enzyme (over the counter, ETC) may help reduce the muscle ache some patients have when they take a statin drug for high cholesterol. It's available in most pharmacies, supermarkets and Costco. Let's talk about if it may be the right supplement for you.
  • Melatonin (also ETC) helps some people fall asleep a little faster and longer. It's a little more effective if the sleep difficulty was caused by a beta blocker (e.g., metoprolol, atenolol) and others. But it can cause morning dizziness and daytime sleepiness. Some people with fibromyalgia say that some of their symptoms were improved (not cured).
  • Physical exams for Medicare patients: Medicare does not cover the traditional annual physical examination. However, Medicare will cover what it defines as AWV (Annual Wellness Visit) once a year, or, more precisely, once every 365 days. During the AWV your medical needs are identified and addressed. They will cover that, so take advantage and stay well!

    Call today to schedule your AWV - 203-853-1919
Hope you take good care of yourself during this tough period. We are here to help, in the office, by virtual visits and by email. 

Stay well, 

Igal Staw, Ph.D., M.D.

Twitter / Dr. Staw