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Virtual visits increase in Alaska amid Covid-19 pandemic

 Lead Provider, Juliet Santos at Express Care Clinic showing what a virtual visit is like.
Lead Provider, Juliet Santos at Express Care Clinic showing what a virtual visit is like. (KTUU)
Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:41 AM AKDT
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From the national level to the local level, social distancing is the term of the year. People are being urged to wash their hands, keep their distance and stay home if they feel sick, but in the event, you do need to see a doctor and knowing hospitals are working at max capacity, there is an at-home option, virtual visits.

Juliet Santos is the lead provider for Express Care Alaska. She said the day after the first confirmed Covid-19 case was announced in Alaska, they had 20 virtual visits. 5 days later, that number went up to 100.

"Everyone's really being funneled into the virtual visit just to minimize exposure," she said.

Insurance or not, patients aren't turned away, but given the high demand, Santos urges people to have certain health information ready and to be patient.

"Get your blood pressure, get your weight, get your temperature checked, get your pulse checked and have those numbers ready before you go ahead and sign on to our portal," she said.

As for Covid-19 testing, the clinics are following certain criteria.

"As you know nationwide we're still lacking all the Covid test we probably need so we're still conserving and at this time we're testing only those that who are symptomatic and meet the criteria. There are a lot of people that have been exposed that really need to be tested so we ask that you be patient with us, we need to prioritize," added Santos.

She said the average wait time is about 35 to 40 minutes and while walk-ins are welcome, calls and video conferences are preferred, especially as we all try to keep our social distance.

There are 5 Express Care Clinics within the Anchorage area. The Huffman location is still seeing patients in the clinic. The remaining four are dedicated to the demand of taking virtual visits full time.

Santos said Covid testing is paid for by the Alaska Department of Health.

to learn more about telehealth options in Alaska.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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