AUSTIN, Texas — Health care needs don't stop just because we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.
The Austin Regional Clinic has expanded services to patients to make scheduling and appointments easier.
ARC Far West, ARC Round Rock and ARC Southwest have extended weekday hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dr. Jay Zdunek, the chief medical officer at ARC, said all clinics remain open, with all services available except for non-essential surgical procedures.
"We are ensuring safe environments for our patients, separating patients with respiratory illness from other patients," Dr. Zdunek said.
Drive-up COVID-19 testing continues to be offered 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at ARC Far West, ARC South 1st, ARC Cedar Park, ARC Round Rock and ARC Kyle Plum Creek. After-hours clinics now also offer drive-up COVID-19 testing on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dr. Zdunek said patients must have an ARC physician's lab order before coming to a drive-up testing site.
"If someone drives up without first having an initial physician evaluation, they will be offered a telemedicine appointment right then so a physician can determine whether or not a test is indicated," he said.
For children who can't afford to miss vaccines, pediatric well-checks will be available 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, April 18, 25 and May 2.
Currently, ARC Quarry Lake in Austin, ARC Buda, ARC Cedar Park, ARC Kelly Lane Pflugerville are offering the pediatric well-checks, with more locations to be added. Call the clinic or ARC info at 512-272-4636 to schedule.
"It is important for parents to keep up with their child's development, vaccines, any medical issues," Dr. Zdunek said. "All clinics' patient and staff safety protocols are followed."
ARC has also expanded telemedicine visits for new and established patients.
Telemedicine visits are available for all primary and specialty care doctors, and Dr. Zdunek said 60 to 70% of all ARC visits are now via telemedicine.
24/7 scheduling for these appointments can be arranged online or by calling any ARC clinic and pressing one. The cost of a telemedicine visit is covered by insurance at the same rate as an office visit, Dr. Zdunek said.
To help patients avoid unnecessarily going to the ER, ARC is offering a triage phone line. Patients can call ARC clinics or the COVID-19 24/7 hotline at 866-456-4525 and talk to a nurse to help them decide if they should come in to see the doctor.
"Depending on their symptoms, patients are set up with an immediate telemedicine visit with a physician, by phone or video visit," Dr. Zdunek said. "75% of patients who called triage were able to be treated in the clinic rather than an ER. This helps keep patients out of the emergency room and saving beds and care for those who really need it."
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