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March 26th Update on Coronavirus from Crystal Run Healthcare

Dear Patients of Crystal Run,
I’m writing again to update you about the COVID-19 pandemic, and to keep you informed about what we at Crystal Run are doing to help keep you, and our community, safe and healthy.
People don’t usually accuse me of letting grass grow under my feet. Quite the contrary, I am impatient and want to see things happen yesterday. Even by those standards, the way we have changed Crystal Run operations in the last few weeks to serve you better, while protecting all of our patients and staff, is remarkable. The safety and health of our patients, providers, and staff remains our number one priority as we navigate the unchartered waters of COVID-19.
I’m sure you’ve seen the news reports—the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, in part due to spread of the virus, and in part due to an increase in testing. The threat is very real, but the more we know and the more you know, the more we can work together to contain the spread. Among the things we need to understand is the prevalence of the virus in our community. Crystal Run continues to operate and has significantly expanded our COVID-19 Evaluation Sites, where we perform in-car assessments and testing of symptomatic patients—those with typical COVID-19 symptoms—now operating 7 days per week, by appointment. We are performing over 400 assessments and lab studies per day.   Lab reporting from national laboratories has taken between 2 and 9 days. By next week, we hope to implement testing in our own Crystal Run laboratory, which will reduce lab reporting time to less than one day for our patients.
To better serve you, we’ve also launched telehealth visits, giving you access to providers if your needs can be met without an in-office visit.  You can convert an existing appointment or schedule a new appointment for a telehealth visit, enabling a virtual visit with your provider from your smartphone or computer. For more information about telehealth or to request a telehealth appointment, please visit our website. Telehealth has been embraced by many of our patients—we are already performing many hundreds per day. And, I understand that during the current crisis, New York has ordered commercial insurers to waive copays. You can expect further enhancements to the telehealth program in the near future, as we both work with technology providers and implement “hybrid” visits—full telehealth visits combined with very brief in-office visits for lab work, vital signs, etc.
We know that for many patients, it is still important to come to the office for lab work, imaging studies, medical evaluation, treatment and even procedures. We have worked diligently to make this process as safe as possible. First, greeters verbally screen all visitors for symptoms of COVID-19. We have requested that patients reduce or eliminate the number of friends or family who accompany them. Patient-facing staff now where masks—primarily for the protection of our patients.
This week, to further increase social distancing, we have implemented the “No Wait” rooming process for patients scheduled for in-person office visits.  Patients check-in from their cars by phone. When their provider is ready, a member of our clinical staff calls the patient and arranges to meet at the front door to escort the patient directly to the exam room, avoiding contact with other staff and patients. 
In addition, we are actively exploring a house call program to serve those frail patients without symptoms of COVID-19 for whom any travel outside the home could prove dangerous. More to come on this in the future.
Finally, we have established the Crystal Run COVID Response Team, CR-CRT, a group of physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) who have volunteered to serve outside of their traditional roles at Crystal Run in order to meet the needs of the current public health emergency. These physicians and APPs will provide services they don’t typically provide and in facilities in which they don’t typically provide them. Specialists, for example, might provide general inpatient medical care, and physicians who traditionally provide outpatient care might provide hospital inpatient care as well. And all these physicians and APPs may work in locations, including other NY counties, in which they don’t normally provide care. Some members of the team may be deployed to outpatient or office locations, drive-in COVID evaluation sites,  or may participate in our house-call program to meet the needs of our community at this challenging time. 
We continue to recommend that all of our patients practice social distancing; leave home only when essential—but absolutely stay home if you are ill;  maintain 6 feet of distance from others; wash your hands frequently;  keep your hands away from your face; keep surfaces clean;  and don’t cough or sneeze into your hands. 
I would again like to thank all of you for your continued trust in Crystal Run. And I would like to thank all of my colleagues at Crystal Run for their efforts during this most difficult of times. It is my honor and privilege to work alongside you. 
Dr T
Hal Teitelbaum, MD, JD, MBA
Managing Partner & CEO