COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Telemedicine is relieving some fear for people with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis in the COVID-19 pandemic. People with MS are at high risk with immune systems already compromised with the medicine they take. But their treatments can’t stop.
MS Neurologist, Dr. Aaron Boster, opened the doors to his new practice March 19th when the state started shutting things down.
“It was really a moment to come together as a team to place patients and families first,” said Dr. Boster.
Dr. Boster says having MS doesn’t increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 and doesn’t mean you’ll have more severe disease.
“Some of the medicines we give people could put them at a higher risk,” said Dr. Boster.
We spoke with one of his patients through Zoom about telemedicine.
“There’s been a real demand for this within the MS community,” said Laura Kolaczkowski.
Kolaczkowski says there are barriers to seeing a doctor in person.
“Just getting up and getting out of bed sometime and leaving your house particularly if you have a condition such as MS with mobility problems,” said Kolaczkowski.
Kolaczkowski was diagnosed with MS in 2008. When flu season spikes she stays home like she’s doing now with the coronavirus.
“We are immunocompromised which means we’re kind of sitting ducks for germs that come our way,” said Kolaczkowski.
Dr. Boster says emergency changes that relaxed medicare laws paved the way for this non-traditional approach.
He can now do new consults or see someone from out of state.
“Our patients that require IV infusions are still coming in; we're having to screen them very carefully. We've come up with some clinical protocols to help decide who is higher and lower risk,” said Dr. Boster.
Everyone else sees him through a lens. All-day, every day.
“When this pandemic finally ends the question in a lot of docs heads is how are the laws going to go back and it’s actually my hope they remain somewhat liberal I really think serendipitously we’ve discovered there’s a lot of fantastic medicine that can be delivered through telemedicine,” said Dr. Boster.
Since converting to telemedicine, Dr. Boster is seeing 10 to 12 patients daily.
He’s also written many work accommodation letters to keep at-risk patients out of the mix and away from potential exposure.