To My Patients,
emailed to patients 10/12/2022
Summer is over, the sun is hiding, but some of the late summer flowers are still here, and the autumn ones are coming up - definitely a bright spot.
The office has been busy, both in-office, and face-to-face by telemedicine. We are still on a COVID schedule, seeing patients primarily Tuesdays and Thursdays plus "when necessary" by arrangement. More on the subject below.
Speaking about myself, just had double-hernia surgery, from which I'm recovering rapidly, only had to change one workday and kept the schedule a little lighter for 2 days. The surgeon was great (but I prefer not to mention names on email).
Sandy and I will be traveling to Denver at the end of this month, to see our younger son and his family, as we've been doing every few months (we try to see them, either here or in Colorado, at least 4-5 times a year). Our time away is listed at the end of this message.Please give us a call at 203-853-1919 if you need an appointment!
And now back to some real medicine:
It's still with us, and not leaving soon. I deal with new COVID cases almost every day, sometimes multiple cases a day. Most patients have been vaccinated and "boosted," but are still getting it (none of them had received the newly released Bivalent Booster before contracting COVID).
Unfortunately, COVID death rates in the US are still at the level of 380-400 a day, and there has been no definite decline in at least 6 months. Reliable studies calculated that, overall, vaccination has reduced COVID mortality by 80% down to today's level.
The moral of the story: Get vaccinated/boosted, and make sure you get the new bivalent booster (includes the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants); stay away from high-risk social gatherings (or at least wear a suitable facemask, I prefer the N95), and don't be embarrassed to use a hand sanitizer frequently.
If you get symptoms which are commonly associated with COVID (sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, fever, malaise, etc.), don't assume "it's just a cold." Get tested, more than once, and if in any doubt - contact the office (call, leave message, email). The COVID antiviral medication is very effective, but you must act quickly.
Telemedicine, barely known before COVID and now commonly used, has been very effective in my practice. I use it 5+ days a week, from office or from home, and at hours when most medical offices are unavailable. Patients now have, or have access to, a growing variety of home monitoring devices. Aside of the old thermometer, it's common to have at home a reliable blood pressure machine, a pulse oximeter, a continuous glucose monitor (for people with diabetes), and/or pulse-irregularity monitor (as part of a wristwatch such as Fitbit, Apple Watch, and others). And many more are on the horizon. Using these devices, as the need arises, adds information, and makes telemedicine visit effective.
As of now, most insurance cover the cost of the virtual visit; the copay or deductible still applies in most cases.
You may find it interesting to see how Johns Hopkins describes the benefits of telemedicine, just click here.
The formats I now use are FaceTime, Zoom and WhatsApp; this may change as regulations change. With enough public support and demand, I hope telemedicine stays with us after COVID is defeated, as a great adjunct to in-office medicine.
Periodic Health Evaluation
There are various recommendations for periodic physical exams, but it's generally accepted that one should have a yearly physical starting at the age of 50. The periodic health evaluation/physical exam is your gateway to early detection and disease prevention, and so it is the gateway to better health.
Most insurance companies pay for periodic physical exams, and many waive the copay and deductible. Some even give you an incentive to do it. An HSA (Health Saving Account) may cover any gaps.
Medicare will pay for an Annual Wellness Visit, AWV (that's once every 365 days - this is how they define it). They don't pay for what we refer to as a physical exam, but we include all elements of the physical exam with the AWV at no special charge.
To make a long story short, take advantage of the periodic physical exam/wellness evaluation. And if you have no insurance, we'll work with you - give us a call to schedule your visit - 203-653-1919.
Our mini-vacation time away from the office starts Thursday AM 10/27/2022, and runs through Wednesday 11/2/2022.
We'll be back in the office on Thursday 11/3/2022, 9 AM. During our time away, Janine will be in the office as usual, and I will continue to check my emailfor your messages and ongoing needs. Your voice mail messages will be answered.Give us a call at 203-853-1919 if you need an appointment before we go!
Until I see you (physically or virtually…), stay well,
Igal Staw, Ph.D., M.D.