For Lucinda Westerlind, Aspen Valley Primary Care’s new telemedicine option worked out to be just what she needed. She and her family live on five acres in Rifle, while her primary care physician, Dr. Karen Locke, has her office in Basalt.
Lucinda is one of Aspen Valley Hospital’s first patients to utilize telemedicine services that recently came online at the five Center for Medical Care clinics, part of Aspen Valley Hospital’s network of care.
The five clinics — Aspen Valley Primary Care, OrthoAspen, Cardiology, Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat) — were planning to launch telemedicine services later this year, but as the COVID-19 crisis grew that timeline accelerated. Working with AVH’s IT department and Chief Transformation Officer Elaine Gerson, they were able to implement more than three months ahead of schedule.
Lucinda Westerlind has graciously agreed to publicly share her experience with the new system, which is proving to be a vital tool in the effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Aspen Valley Hospital: How long has Dr. Locke been your doctor?
Lucinda Westerlind: I’ve been a patient with Dr. Locke ever since she and her husband came to town, so I was in their first batch. I used to live in Carbondale and work in Basalt, and now I live in Rifle, which works well for our family. But I like the care I receive from the Lockes (Karen and Kelly), so I’ve kept seeing them.
AVH: Why did you end up utilizing the new telemedicine option?
LW: I had heard that it would be something my doctors would be offering, so I asked for a televisit. I probably wouldn’t have sought it out if it weren’t for COVID-19. If I can see the doctor and don’t have to risk being exposed, that’s a win-win.
AVH: Why did you need to see a doctor?
LW: I woke up last week I had a rash under my arm. It was bright red, and I thought it might shingles. I knew if I got an antiviral treatment quickly it would help reduce the symptoms, so I called the office and asked for a virtual visit.
AVH: Our telemedicine option requires that you be enrolled in using the Aspen Valley Hospital’s Patient Portal, which is part of our electronic health record platform, and have the Healow app on your smart phone or computer. Did you have any trouble getting that set up?
LW: No, it wasn’t any trouble at all. The office had me fill out a short form so I could access the Patient Portal. I had not downloaded Healow yet, so they sent me very clear instructions and a link to the app.
AVH: Did you use your smart phone or home computer for the visit?
LW: I used my phone. We did just like it was a Zoom call, where you see the other person in real time.
AVH: How did it go?
LW: It went great. Dr. Locke gave me instructions about how to move the phone and point the camera so she could see what the rash looked like, which helped her identify what it was. It was much better than just talking on the phone.
AVH: Was it shingles, as you suspected?
LW: Thankfully, no. Dr. Locke gave me clear parameters about how I should care for it and what changes to look for that would require me to call her back.
AVH: Would you consider using the telemedicine option again?
LW: Yes, I feel like I received good care. I felt secure in terms of privacy and medical recommendations. It was so ideal, because I didn’t have to leave the home and the doctor was able to prescribe care. I have even recommended it to my friends. If you need medical attention, it’s a great alternative to going into the doctor’s office.