Kathleen Haley: Hi everyone! I’m Kathleen
Haley from Iora Primary Care and I’m thrilled to be here with Rushika Fernandopulle.
He is a primary care doctor, and our CEO and co-founder of Iora. Thank you for coming and
being with us today. Rushika you formed Iora 10 years ago or almost 10 years ago and you’ve really changed
the way patients experience and get care. So, before we get to the questions at hand,
can you tell us a little bit more about Iora? Rushika Fernandopulle: Sure Kathleen, it’s
great to be here. So Iora is a network of doctors offices across the country. We primarily serve
older Americans on Medicare, many of which are considered the most vulnerable population
for the coronavirus or COVID-19. So we decided to start Iora because we thought there was
a need for a new model of care that, what we say, restores humanity to healthcare and
focuses not on transactions, or trying to do more things to people. But really saying,
how do we help people improve their health? We spend more time with each of our patients,
and we don’t just hear from people when they call or visit us, but will reach out
when they don’t to make sure they are ok and have what they need to stay healthy. Kathleen: That’s great! Thanks, Rushika. Well, it’s a scary time for many. It can
be especially worrisome for those with chronic conditions, and you just mentioned that your
teams, our teams reach out to people. Can you share guidance on what folks–what we’re telling our patients and what
people can do when they’re at home to stay healthy? Rushika: Sure, so while a lot of people out there are worried about Coronavirus and COVID-19
as well they should, the problem is that a large number of seniors also have other conditions.
About 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and about two-thirds
have two or more. And unfortunately, those don’t go away in an era of COVID, and these are
usually common things: diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, asthma, lung disease,
depression, arthritis. So in general the advice is that you should
do all of the things you should have been doing anyway to manage your chronic diseases.
So first is to monitor your condition regularly. This could include using a blood pressure
cuff if you have Hypertension, a glucometer if you have diabetes, a scale if you have
CHF. Talk to your doctor about what am I supposed to be measuring, and let’s keep
tabs on it. And if you notice that it’s getting worse, you should reach out right away.
So second is keep taking your medications. Medications work. Ideally, keep a 90-day supply
on hand. Use mail-order pharmacies if you can so you don’t have to be going and filling
prescriptions in person. Third is that most chronic diseases really
benefit from a good lifestyle which is regular physical activity and healthy eating. So it’s
easier when you’re cooped up at home to eat junk food, but try to eat healthily like
you would otherwise. Number two is try to get some exercise. Going outside is fine as
long as you keep a six-foot distance between you and other people. So try to be active.
Now fourth, particularly with COVID lurking around, is don’t smoke. Particularly indoors.
Smoking can worsen your underlying health conditions and make you more susceptible to
badness if you get COVID. And finally, please, for our patients, stay
in touch with us. We’re available by phone and video, you can reach out any time 24/7 and if you
have any questions or concerns, reach out. We want to hear from you. Kathleen: That’s great. The current guidance in most states is for people to stay home.
What is your advice on what we should be doing differently if we’re used to going to in-person
doctor’s appointments to monitor and manage our care? Rushika: So it’s really important that, despite all of this, to keep good linkages
with your care team, right. We’re here for you. So we may not be able to see you in person,
but virtually everyone can be seen by phone or video. So we want to be in touch with all
of our patients. If we haven’t reached out already, we want you to reach out to us to
try and contact you and touch base by phone or by video. We are still able to
see people in person if we need to, but we are trying to avoid that for both your safety
and that of our teams. So second is to identify a friend or family
member who can check up on you by phone or in person if you think you might be getting
worse. Also, if you don’t have access to a smartphone or a computer, maybe they can
come and they can help you do some video. Third is, unless it’s a life-threatening
emergency, we really recommend for our patients to not just go to an urgent care or emergency
room. They are swamped with COVID cases in most parts of the country and the exposure
level you could get is dangerous. You should always call your doctor first if you feel
your chronic conditions are worsening and they will help you decide the right thing
to do. Kathleen: That’s great! And any final words
for us today? Rushika: So I think this can be a really scary
time, especially for seniors and people who love them. I think we can–I know we can get through this
together. If you stay home and minimize contact with anyone else, your risk of getting COVID
is very small. And if you continue simply do the right things to manage your chronic
conditions; you are putting yourself in the best position to stay healthy. Remember, we
and others are here to support and help you. Kathleen: Wonderful. Thanks again Rushika
for being with us today. Thank you everyone for watching. We will continue to
create videos like this and provide more content so please follow Iora Primary Care. We’re
on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube. And we look forward to continuing the conversation!