Although more and more people are staying home due to the coronavirus, Central Orthopedic, an orthopedic surgery practice in Rockville Centre, has “taken a medical oath to treat our patients,” said Dr. Jordan Kerker.
The North Centre Avenue office, which opened in 2014, is one of Central Orthopedic Group’s two satellite offices. The other is in Massapequa, and both are temporarily closed due to a steep decline in patients, who are social distancing and canceling appointments, Kerker said.
However, the group’s flagship office in Plainview is open and doctors are offering telemedicine, a virtual means of treating patients.
“We started telemedicine to continue to serve patients who can’t or don’t feel comfortable coming to the office or need to quarantine or self isolate,” said Kerker, who has been at the practice for 10 years. “We want the community to know we are still here for them and treating patients.”
For a telemedicine appointment, patients receive an email to download an application on their device. The app lives on a server that complies with all HIPPA disclosure standards, and the patient signs up with their email address.
Then, they enter a virtual waiting room at the time of their appointment. When the doctor is ready, they will begin a video call with the patient. During the video call, the doctor will assess the patient’s pain or injury as best they can and prescribe medication or home physical therapy as needed. “It’s a very straight-forward process,” Kerker said.
At the same time, telemedicine has its challenges. Orthopedics is often a “hands-on” approach to medicine, Kerker noted, and more complex issues can be difficult to evaluate with visuals only. If patients need to visit the office in Plainview, he emphasized that it is open, and the staff is taking extra precautions to screen every patient at the door and take their temperatures, as well as cleaning the building thoroughly.
Coronavirus has taken a hit on Central Orthopedic Group, which has had to lay off nearly 90 percent of its 200-person staff.
With this “dramatic impact,” Kerker said telemedicine has “offered us a bridge that allows us to see patients and allows us to thrive, and we hope it will get us to a fully functioning office again.”