Local doctors turn to telehealth to keep patients, health care workers safe


SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – As a way to mitigate the risk of Covid-19, local doctors are turning to telehealth.

Frank Colvard is a pediatrician in Surfside Beach, he tells News13 while not all patients can be diagnosed over the phone, all visits can start that way.

“Our goal is, if we can take care of the child without having to bring them in the office, that’s what we want to do,” Colvard said.

The office remains open, however, they have changed their scheduling to make sure no healthy patients cross paths with sick ones.

They are seeing patients in the morning for wellness visits and immunizations, while reserving afternoon appointments for sick patients.

“There are some things as pediatricians that we still want the patient in front of us,” Colvard said. “You really don’t feel comfortable doing a telehealth visit when you have an infant with a fever because there is so much that could be going on with that child. But, it’s something we’re adapting to and understanding this is a unique time in medicine.”

Another policy they implemented, no one is allowed in the waiting room.

When you come up to our door there are giant signs that tell you not to walk into the waiting room un-escorted,” Colvard explained.

People can check-in, fill out paperwork and take care of their co-payments on their phones before a nurse comes out to their car to bring them directly to an exam room.

While he says children typically do not suffer severe consequences from Covid-19, they can easily pass it.

Colvard adds, telehealth provides parents worried about the virus a way to talk with their doctor from their homes.

“We have a lot of parents that call that don’t want to come to the office because they’re scared, Colvard said. “They know where is the best place to catch something [is], the doctor’s office.”

Nicole Lee is one of those parents. 

Lee’s daughter has a suppressed immune system, meaning she is at a greater risk for coronavirus. Lee says she planned to cancel her sons follow-up appointment until she learned Dr. Colvard’s office now has a telehealth option.

“Peace of mind to me knowing that I’m still able to give feedback to the doctor about how well my son is doing and not worry about exposing him or the rest of my family while doing so,” Lee explained.

She tells News13, her first telehealth experience is a positive one and hopes this is something more people try, and continues after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

“I have a teenager and I think he was a little more comfortable being at home and just kind of able to express himself a little bit better, ” Lee said.

Colvard says there are a few things you can do to make your child’s telehealth appointment easier. Start by using WiFi instead of LTE when possible, have a flashlight handy, set up in a well-lit room and do a little work ahead of time.

“Any information you can give us, if you can weigh your child on a scale, take their temperature before you call us,” Colvard said.

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