CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — With most of the state shutdown because of the coronavirus and many people choosing to “Stay safe, Stay home,” health providers across Southern Utah are utilizing innovative ways to continue serving the needs of their patients.
Dr. Joseph Empey of Desert Pain Specialists — Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team — told St. George News they have always strived to use the latest technology and deliver first-class care for their patients. Due to recent patient concerns over COVID-19, they have made a few adjustments to their service and are now using telemedicine more than ever.
Desert Pain Specialists first started using telemedicine about three years ago to better serve patients in rural areas like Caliente in Nevada, and Kanab and Delta in Utah, but during these unprecedented and challenging times, the technology has proven to be invaluable to all regions.
As Southern Utahns started getting more serious about social distancing a few weeks ago, the need for the service has exploded, and now a majority of their patients are utilizing telemedicine.
“We all really love taking care of patients and want to treat each patient like they were our mom or our dad,” Empey said.” Right now, with all this going on, it’s been nice to have this tool to still be able to do that.”
Many of Desert Pain’s patients are considered high-risk for the coronavirus, and the telemedicine allows their physicians to still be face-to-face without the risk of spreading the virus. These virtual visits take around 10 minutes, and other than taking vitals or being hands-on with patients, not much is different from clinical visits.
Physical exams are now done at the time of a procedure, and patients’ medications can be handled online through electronic prescriptions.
Empey knows this is a scary time for many, with all of the unexpected changes to society. He said at first, he was afraid he was going to see a lot of confusion, anxiety and depression. To his pleasant surprise, however, on all of the telemedicine visits so far, patients have been upbeat and simply realize that we are all sacrificing together – for everyone’s benefit.
“We’re loving it. It’s really keeping people out of the office and keeping the risk low,” he said, noting that everyone has been appreciative that Desert Pain has remained open for procedures and can offer telemedicine.
Chase Morrison, office administrator for Desert Pain Specialists, said the service has been quintessential in keeping their doors open.
They recognize that telemedicine is new to many people and that it can be challenging, but their entire team is dedicated to making the process easy and efficient for the new and existing patients to get set up on the various platforms they use, such as Facetime, Google Duo, Zoom and Skype.
“It’s very easy to access. We take care of all the heavy lifting,” Morrison said, adding that all patients have to do is call and ask for telemedicine, and they will handle the rest. “We educate them, help them log in and on the day of their telemedicine appointment, we actually call them. It is super easy.”
All of the staff at Desert Pain Specialists understand that there are patients who have underlying health concerns and want to make sure they do their part to keep everybody safe. Morrison said they have always looked to be ahead of the curve and innovative, so when the recent changes needed to be enacted, they weren’t taken by surprise.
“We’re always prepared for what’s going to be presented, whether it’s a virus or patients who are older and can’t travel. We always want to make sure that we have ways to treat patients, even if it’s not the traditional method of actually coming into the clinic,” he said. “The response has been phenomenal. Desert Pain wants to do what we can to help.”
While their office will remain open for limited services and emergency procedures, they are taking every precaution and adhere to social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control. Before patients are scheduled for an appointment, they are screened to make sure they are not currently suffering from the virus. In addition, waiting room capacity has been limited to protect other patients.
Empey said he’s been pleased with everyone’s ability to sacrifice and power through these unexpected times, adding that it has been fun educating patients on how to use the telemedicine technology. He said it’s exciting to think patients will forever be able to call their family and actually do face-to-face conferencing now that they know exactly how to do it.
“I just think how rad, now that they’ve got that tool, that they can call their grandkids,” Empey said.
Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.
About Desert Pain Specialists
Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain. Their state-of-the-art facility in St. George, Utah, allows them to offer unmatched quality of care for their patients.
Desert Pain Specialists is located in the new Riverfront Medical Center, 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301 in St. George. The team has additional offices at 1760 N. Main St. in Cedar City and 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600, in Mesquite, Nevada.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
- St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
- Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
- Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.
Email: [email protected]