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Mid-Michigan doctors curtailing in-person visits during coronavirus pandemic

Patients with respiratory illness are being seen by video, diagnosed over the phone or sent to urgent care
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 7:53 PM EST
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DAVISON, Mich. (WJRT) - A Davison woman is upset and frustrated that she can’t physically go in to see her family doctor.

Amy Lesko is 99% sure she has a sinus infection. But she said it didn’t feel right when her doctor said he’d call in a prescription rather than seeing her.

”When I told her my symptoms, which is runny nose, sinus pressure, the receptionist said we can’t see anyone who is having symptoms like that,” Lesko said.

Doctors say her experience isn’t uncommon during the coronavirus pandemic. They are avoiding in-person office visits with some patients or sending them to urgent care centers instead.

“How much is our physical exam -- seeing somebody in the office -- going to help us with that diagnosis,” said Dr. Robert Levine, who practices family medicine with the Genesee Health System.

People are used to that one on one personal interaction and examination, but most doctors would rather see patients via telehealth than in person for respiratory illnesses.

“If we brought someone into the office to see them, what are we going to discover? That they have some pressure?” Levine said. “We can always ask just like you and I are talking, well push on yours is it really sore when you push right here? Yes, it’s sore. Well, we’ve made the diagnosis.”

A lot of the reluctance to see patients will depend on their symptoms. If the doctor feels they need to see a patient to make an accurate diagnosis, they will.

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