Years of appointments for 9-year-old Carter Snyder quickly transitioned to telehealth consultations when COVID-19 hit. Carter had been dealing with complications from tracheoesophageal fistula, a condition where the trachea and esophagus aren’t properly connected.
“They had to do reconstructive surgery internally,” said Carter’s mom, Joanna Snyder. “Basically his reflux was so out of control, but it was silent to him. It took us almost two years to figure out his reflux was coming up his esophagus and sneaking into his trachea and down into his lungs.”
As coronavirus cases rise each day by the thousands and more hospitalizations take place, health officials in Colorado expect telehealth to grow even more.
“It’s actually worked really well, and I think it’s a huge patient satisfier. People are calling and asking if we can do this. It’s been a great way to serve the western part of the state particularly going into winter for those people who it is hard to travel, and they’re doing that during a pandemic,” said Dr. Kristin Shipman with Rocky Mountain Pediatric Surgery.
Surgery to fix the issue was ordered, but that meant more telehealth appointments.
“I love them. I think it was super helpful. For most of our doctors, they’re down in Denver and we’re up in Windsor so it’s at least an hour, hour-and-a-half depending on traffic. If I’m taking him out of school, it’s a whole day affair,” Joanna said.
Shipman says people have less contact with strangers in a clinic and are more relaxed being in a comfortable place during consultations.
“Particularly with surgery I’ve found the people are a little less nervous, a little bit more at ease. I have fun because I get to see them at home in their own environment.”
As flu season begins and the pandemic continues, it’s believed telehealth will become even more prevalent.
“I think it’s been a great way to serve patients. I hope it doesn’t go away,” Shipman said.