Community Corner: COVID-19, Epilepsy and Telehealth Visits

telemedicine visit with doctor

Epilepsy News From:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID-19 continues to dominate the news and our daily lives. The health risks are very real, and people should continue to do all they can to lessen their risk of exposure and to limit spread of the coronavirus. While some communities are beginning to “open up” and ease restrictions, COVID-19 is not gone. We still need to be watchful and take care of ourselves and each other.

The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to bringing up-to-date information about COVID-19 and epilepsy to our community. This week you’ll find expanded information in a new "COVID-19 and Epilepsy" section on epilepsy.com that includes updated written content, videos on commonly asked questions, and downloadable fact sheets.

How can I get care for epilepsy?

Keeping up with your epilepsy care is critical right now. If your seizures are well-controlled, it’s important to keep them that way. If seizures are not controlled or if epilepsy is affecting your life in other ways, you need to get the help you need. Just because people are asked to stay home as much as possible, doesn’t mean you should not see or talk to your health care team.

Many hospitals and epilepsy centers are beginning to open up some clinics or their inpatient units. Slowly, services for people with epilepsy will resume, including admissions for EEG (electroencephalogram) monitoring and epilepsy surgeries.

Life won’t go back to normal immediately though. Hospitals and clinics are working to put safety precautions in place as they resume services. In the past few months, you may have had visits with your health care team by phone or video calls. These are called telehealth or telemedicine visits.

What does this mean for you?

Many people will continue to have telehealth visits with some providers. If you haven’t had one yet, it can feel overwhelming at first.

Telemedicine

Download and use the Telemedicine Visit Checklist (available in English and Spanish) below to help you prepare for visits. Created by the Epilepsy Foundation’s Epilepsy Learning Healthcare System, this checklist will help you get the most of your visit and keep your health on track.

In-Person Appointments

If your health care team contacts you to schedule in-person visits, tests or admissions, ask what to expect and what safety precautions are in place. People may be nervous about going to the hospital as you’ve been told for weeks to stay away! That is a normal response but remember a few things.

  • Your health care team will not bring you into the hospital unless they feel it’s needed and it’s safe.
  • If you do not feel ready to go for an in-person visit or you have a family member at high risk for COVID-19, ask for a telemedicine visit first.
  • If surgery is being considered, you can have a say in when it is scheduled. You can ask to hold on scheduling it for a while. Remember, it’s going to take some time for health care centers to catch up with everyone’s needs.
  • It is also important to try and balance the risks of delaying visits or tests due to concern about COVID-19 with the risks of ongoing seizures. Your health care team can help you understand that balance and choose the right decision for you.

Caring for Your Emotional Health

While we are going through this new phase of COVID-19, don’t forget to take care of your emotional health as well as your physical health. And remember that social distancing physically does not mean to disconnect socially from family and friends. Get connected and stay connected with others!

We Want to Hear from You

We hope these resources on COVID-19 and telemedicine checklists are helpful. Please let us know if they are helpful or what can be improved by completing this survey after your telemedicine visit.

Take care and be safe,

Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Senior Director, Health Information and Resources

Authored by: Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN on 5/2020
Reviewed by: Elaine Wirrell MD on 5/2020

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
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