By Bernadette Riley, DO, FACOFP, FILM

New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine is located in Nassau County, Long Island, which has been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. NYIT’s Riland Academic Healthcare Center is home to the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)/Hypermobility Treatment Center, of which Bernadette Riley DO, FACOFP, FILM is the Director.

This center provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to this highly specialized population. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders can affect the entire body. It also provides cardiology, orthopedics, osteopathic manipulation, sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, neuropsychology, psychology and physical and occupational therapy services to patients.

The Ehlers-Danlos/Hypermobility team collaborated to make sure all patients got quality care during this pandemic. Disaster management and triage measures were put in place to provide care. In particular, the transition to telemedicine permitted vulnerable patients to receive care virtually. The Center has remained open and running throughout the entire pandemic, for new and existing patients.

EDS Program [Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome], by Barry Sloan.

Patients with EDS could have comorbid conditions that make them especially vulnerable to viral infections during this outbreak. The incorporation of telemedicine limits in-person visits and minimizes exposure to patients, staff and providers. Telemedicine, either through virtual check-ins, e-visits or telehealth visits, helped patients discuss with the director their medical concerns, including COVID-19 discussions.

ACOFP recently provided a presentation to discuss telemedicine. A link to this telemedicine presentation is available in the ACOFP COVID-19 Resource Center. The presentation by members of the ACOFP Practice Management Committee explains how to incorporate telemedicine into your practice, including billing and coding guidelines. It also highlights successes and lessons learned from osteopathic family physicians currently using telemedicine to treat patients.

The ACOFP COVID-19 Resource Center has a telemedicine section with links to several guides on implementing it in your practice, as well as information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

03.17.2020 Summary of Medicare Telemedicine Services Chart

There are many populations with compromised immune systems or underlying conditions who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and should avoid possible exposure. With stay-at-home orders in many states extended through the month of May, it is becoming more important to find ways to treat patients in a safe way. Further delaying treatment may no longer be an option.

This is true for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome patients, among many others. For more information on the Ehlers-Danlos  patient population, see the article published in the January 2020 issue of the JAOA, The Many Facets of Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and the January/February issue of Osteopathic Family Physician journal titled The Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes.

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