Bon Secours 24/7 screen larger
Doctors no longer make house calls, but there’s an app that will let you have a virtual visit with a physician while you’re homebound or busy at the office.
Bon Secours 24/7 is a new service offered through Bon Secours that features around-the-clock access to live sessions with doctors, physician assistants or nurse practitioners over your smartphone, tablet or desk computer.
Symptoms and minor medical conditions suitable for the service include urinary tract infections, sinus infections, bronchitis and respiratory infections, colds and flu, sprains and strains, pinkeye and skin rashes, coughs, sore throats, vomiting and diarrhea, fever and headaches, depression and anxiety, weight issues and smoking cessation.
The service costs $49, and the average visit is 10 minutes. Insurance may cover the cost. You pay with a credit card after you register. The service launched to the public on Jan. 19 and already has 2,500 enrollments and recorded several hundred visits.
Andreya Risser, a family practice physician with Bon Secours Medical Group, was staffing the service on Wednesday afternoon when I tried it out over a desktop Mac. She said she had been on duty online during the snowstorm and had worked with several parents with sick children who were snowed in and unable to see their doctor.
The service works on an Android or iOs device. There are some tech glitches that sometimes have to be worked through, she says. One patient, for instance, had to move the phone to adjust the lighting so she could have a better view, Risser says.
The exam-by-camera is surprisingly informative. Risser says on the physician’s end, it allows her to assess a sore throat, and is a perfect medium to assess a skin rash.
She says the service is a great way to accommodate busy patients. “Everything is changing. People are looking for treatment in different ways.”
You control how much information you provide before the visit. You can provide a list of medications you take, a medical history, list your symptoms and allergies, share photos, X-rays and lab results, and provide information on your pharmacy (some medications may be prescribed if appropriate during the online visit). An introductory video will show you what to expect.
Is this good medicine?
Absolutely, says Dr. Thomas Auer, chief executive officer for Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group. "What we can do with this platform is really amazing," he says.
The service is appropriate for minor, nonemergency, conditions. If needed, you’ll be referred for an in-person visit. It’s offered through a partnership with American Well, which specializes in telehealth software and services.
Nationally, about 70 percent of users would otherwise not have gone to a doctor for treatment, according to Louise Edwards, senior manager for business development planning with Bon Secours.
Auer says the service could mean a reduction in the use of emergency rooms and similar expensive facilities for treatment of everyday concerns. It also has the potential to benefit families from outside Richmond who are being seen by Bon Secours specialists who could instead check on their patients through the app, saving time and travel.
Bon Secours health care providers (though not necessarily Richmond-based) are available through the service from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday. Otherwise, American Well-affiliated professionals will be on call.
A Call to Action Against HPV
There’s only one vaccine available that prevents a cancer, and it’s woefully under-used.
The vaccine prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease. It can lead to cervical cancer and genital warts.
On Wednesday, the nation’s leading cancer centers, including the VCU Massey Cancer Center, issued a joint proclamation urging a boost in the vaccination rate.
“VCU Massey Cancer Center is committed to a future in which all forms of cancer are eliminated or controlled, but ending HPV-related cancers is truly now within our reach,” Massey Cancer Center Director Gordon D. Ginder says in a release.
About one in four Americans are infected with HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people are exposed to HPV at some point, and the vaccine is recommended to be administered in three doses to children at ages 11 or 12, before they become sexually active. Less than 40 percent of girls and about 21 percent of boys are receiving the vaccine. The recommended rate is 80 percent.
The vaccine can prevent penile cancer, cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer, anal cancer, genital warts and cancer of the back of the throat, according to the CDC.
“HPV is a common infection and most people are exposed to it at some point in their lifetimes,” according to Iain Morgan, a member of Massey’s Cancer Molecular Genetics research program and director of the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research.
“That is why it is so important to vaccinate adolescents, before they are exposed to the virus.”
HPV prevention poster
VCU series to explore AIDS epidemic
A free speaker series titled “HIV/AIDS: Local, National and Global Perspectives,” begins Tuesday at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The series opens with a presentation on how the commonwealth has responded over the decades to the HIV/Aids crisis, by Elaine Martin, director of HIV Prevention Services for the Virginia Department of Health. The session will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Forum Room, VCU Commons.
Other presentations in the nine-part series staged by VCU’s Humanities Research Center include:
- A panel discussion of Richmond and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the James Branch Cabell Library’s auditorium, 901 Park Ave.
- Phil Wilson, director of the Black AIDS Institute, will discuss “Ending AIDS in Black Communities in America” at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at the library auditorium.
- Jennifer Brier of the University of Illinois at Chicago will speak on her research on women living with HIV/AIDS at 4 p.m. on Feb. 29 at the University Student Commons Richmond Salons I-II.
- Women living with HIV/AIDS in Mali will be the topic for VCU anthropologist Christopher A. Brooks and Professor Salim Coumare of Segou, Mali, at 4 p.m. March 16 at the Humanities Research Center Seminar Room, 920 W. Franklin St.
- Christine Cynn of the VCU Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, will discuss her book project, “The ABCs of HIV Prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa,” a look at American sponsored HIV-prevention media in the region, at noon on March 30 in the Humanities Research Center Seminar Room.
- The documentary film “Fig Trees,” which deals with AIDS activists in South Africa and Canada, will be shown and discussed in a session at 4 p.m. April 5 at the library auditorium.
- Neville Hoad of the University of Texas at Austin will discuss his book project on literary and cultural representations of the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa in a session at 4 p.m. on April 14 at the library.
- The series concludes with a session at 5 p.m. on April 18 at the library with Edwin Cameron, a justice with the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He will speak on his involvement in seeking just, humane treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in his country.
The Grass Is Blue
The seventh annual event begins at noon and runs through midnight at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2880 Mountain Road.
Fisher House provides a residence for families of veterans and active duty soldiers receiving treatment at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond. You can make a tax-deductible donation to the Fisher House at rvabluegrassjam.com or at the event. The bluegrass jam has raised more than $85,000 over six years.
Performers this year include East of Afton (the host band), Jackass Flats, The Hot Seats, Big Boss Combo, Slack Family Bluegrass and Commonwealth Bluegrass Band, according to a release. It’s a family-friendly event that also will feature an instrument petting zoo and other activities for children, arts and craft and food and beverage vendors.
You can also bring your own instrument to join in various jam sessions. There’s also an instrument check station.
New Associate Dean for VCU Nursing
Debra J. Barksdale has been named professor and associate dean of academic programs for the VCU School of Nursing. Barksdale succeeds Ann Hamric, who retired in September, according to a release. Barksdale earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan. She is a certified family nurse practitioner, an adult nurse practitioner and a nurse educator.
Children without dental insurance can receive free dental care on Feb. 5, courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry’s Pediatric Dentistry Clinic.
The event, Give Kids a Smile Day, will be offered to children up to age 18 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Lyons Dental Building, 520 N. 11th St.
Available services include exams and cleanings, fillings and extractions, X-rays and minor restorations, according to a release. Call 828-9095 to schedule an appointment.
VCU School of Dentistry's Give Kids A Smile Day. The event is part of program which provides pediatric dental care to low-income families. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University)