DENVER (CBS4) – As COVID-19 cases increase in New York, a doctor in Colorado is giving medical advice to people there. CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida is using telemedicine to help overwhelmed doctor’s offices and hospitals along the East Coast.
“It’s different than what we are experiencing here in Colorado,” Dr. Hnida said. “Multiply that a thousand fold and you’ll get an idea of what’s going on in New York City.”
Dr. Hnida said a few weeks ago, the state of New York issued emergency licensing to out-of-state physicians to help with the pandemic. Using telemedicine, he is able to see patients virtually, who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
“We take calls, do videoconferencing with patients requesting a visit,” he told CBS4’s Makenzie O’Keefe. “It gives me a chance to eyeball what they look like and what they sound like.”
Dr. Hnida said there is a great need for physicians to step in and help out those suffering in New York.
“I was told that the line around the neighborhood urgent care literally wrapped around the block twice,” he said. “The need for help back there is just incredible.”
Dr. Hnida also said that 911 centers and emergency medical services are being overloaded by calls.
“The EMS system is getting 7 to 8 thousand calls a day,” Dr. Hnida said. “The wait in Manhattan approximately this morning is 4 hours, in order to have an emergency call 911, and them have transport come to get you to the hospital.”
Dr. Hnida said using telemedicine, he’s able to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms through the computer. The biggest issue he’s seen in patients there is difficulty breathing.
“They’re in respiratory distress. They can’t breathe,” he said “ Getting them care is extremely important.”
Dr. Hnida said when he pinpoints a patient who is in need of immediate emergency care, he’ll get in contact with nurses and doctors in New York to tell them a patient is on the way to the ER. He’s also able to help identify patients with lesser symptoms and can monitor their health from home.
“We will be asked to give another opinion on whether this person is safe not going to the hospital immediately,” he said. “A lot of times people feel better knowing a path of what they can do to manage their current symptoms.”
Dr. Hnida said seeing how overwhelmed the healthcare system is in New York should serve as a reminder to our community that preparedness is key.
“It’s a nightmare scenario,” he said. “You hope that it doesn’t happen but you have to plan ahead.”
Telemedicine is also being used for patients facing other emergency situations unrelated to COVID-19 who do not feel comfortable going to a hospital setting with everything that is going on.