Tenet Health Central Coast Announces Safe, Virtual Visits to Emergency Departments Via Tele-ER Option


Tenet Health Central Coast is announcing this week a new option for patients unsure of whether to come to the emergency room: Tele-ER. This option allows any one to talk to a board-certified Emergency Room physician24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need is a smart phone, tablet or computer.

“This is a significant achievement in providing patient-first care in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tenet Health Central Coast, Chief Executive Officer Mark Lisa. “Tele-ER provides another solution for families and front-line healthcare workers, in addition to our hospitals’ separate COVID SAFE and COVID CARE zones. This is one more way we’re working to keep hospitals operating as efficiently as possible in a rapidly changing environment.

”Patients who may be uncertain whether to seek treatment–either due to suspected COVID-19 or other emergent medical conditions–no longer have to make the decision alone thanks to Tele-ER.

“This helps address a tremendous challenge during these times: across the country, we have seen patients delay care due to concerns about going to hospitals and, unfortunately, that has life-altering consequences,” said Brad Knox, MD, Director of Emergency Services at Tenet Health Central Coast’s Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, San Luis Obispo County’s only designated Trauma Center.

Cinnamon Redd, MD, the Director of Emergency Services at Twin Cities Community Hospital, which is San Luis Obispo County’s busiest Emergency Department, adds, “the great advantage of Tele-ER is that it provides immediate access for patients and, many times,we will have already seen them virtually if they need to come in-person to the Emergency Department.”Patients can easily access Tele-ERby calling (805) 546-7990at any hour of the day or night.They will connect with a Tenet Health Central Coast Tele-ER staff member to register and get started with a secure, private and individualized ER evaluation. All the patient needs is an internet-connected smartphone, tablet or computer, with a functioning camera.

Due to the need for healthcare options in the face of COVID-19, Medicare now covers Tele-ER visits. The virtual visit cost is typically $20 for Medicare patients, which does not include any follow-up in-person care needed. Tele-ER may be eligible for reimbursement from other insurance providers.

If a patient requires in-person care, diagnostic procedures or lab tests, they will be asked to come into the hospital.Tele-ERis an evaluation tool for patients seeking emergent care and is not a substitute for calling 9-1-1:
if a person’s condition worsens quickly or requires immediate attention, they will be directed to hang up and call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

“Peace of mind is an important part of a sound body, and providing our Tele-ER option is yet another way Tenet Health Central Coast helps reinforce the community’s confidence in accessing safe and high-quality care in our hospitals and via virtual visits, whichever is most appropriate,”said Lisa.

About Tenet Health Central Coast
Tenet Health Central Coast is an integrated healthcare system consisting of two acute care hospitals and several affiliated entities, including primary and specialty care, urgent care, outpatient imaging and laboratories across the Central Coast. The hospitals are Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, the county’s only designated trauma center, in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, Calif. Among their numerous recognitions for quality and compassion, both are internationally recognized Baby-Friendly birth facilities and both have earned the “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Tenet Health Central Coast serves many diverse communities throughout the Central Coast, enabling all that come through its doors have access to quality, coordinated care and advanced specialty services at convenient locations.