Skip the waiting room, follow-ups by video call: Medical care resumes with safeguards

Norton Children’s providers are minimizing direct contact between patients and caregivers as service resumes.

Appointments with your child’s health care providers are changing, and new options may be around long after the coronavirus threat has passed.

For Madeleine Wardell, APRN, pediatric nurse practitioner, the waiting room at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Crestwood isn’t used much. Parents check their child in for their appointment from their cars and go directly to an exam room.

Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, has been able to provide ongoing care through virtual appointments for patients that he usually sees at the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center. Using Norton Telehealth, children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, as well as other endocrine disorders, are able to receive the medical care and guidance they need without leaving their home.

“There’s no interaction with other families in the waiting room. Children are brought in, checked in extremely quickly if the parent wasn’t able to check them in while in the car, then taken to an exam room almost immediately,” Madeleine said. “If a child needs any lab work or diagnostic tests, most of those are getting done in the same exam room.”

The way medical care is delivered as services resume during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed to protect patients and caregivers. Some of the changes may last beyond the crisis as patients become more comfortable with video visits and other innovations.

In the past month, use of the Norton Telehealth platform has jumped, with greater patient acceptance and the expansion of types of visits available.

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Urgent and emergency care has continued at Norton Children’s and Norton Healthcare throughout the crisis.

Other services are reopening in a phased process:

  • Phase 1: Started April 27 and allowed office visits and diagnostic procedures with social distancing and other protections in place.
  • Phase 2: Outpatient surgeries resumed May 6 for patients not expected to need more than 23 hours of observation.
  • Phase 3: Started May 13, Norton Healthcare able to perform half the number of inpatient procedures as before the coronavirus protections took place, if cases remain on a downward trend.
  • Full services can resume May 27 if personal protective equipment supplies and bed availability permit.