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WSBT “Eye on Health” will feature Beacon’s new respiratory care model

Beacon Health is now partnering with WSBT-TV to provide the community with timely health information on its “Eye on Health” monthly news segment.

The first story is scheduled to air tonight during the 5 p.m. newscast.

Here’s a sneak peek.

Beacon Medical Group patients who are experiencing cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms will soon be evaluated, tested and treated in dedicated respiratory exam rooms that minimize community exposure at their family physician’s office.

At the same time, patients who arrive with respiratory symptoms at the South Bend, Granger and Elkhart MedPoint Urgent Care sites will be seen in new Respiratory “Express” Clinics that are set to open in a few weeks.

These respiratory patient areas will provide a separate space for patients with respiratory symptoms to receive care. They are designed to help sort out the common cold from influenza, COVID-19, and other causes of their symptoms.

Dr. Jason Marker is interviewed by WSBT.

“This initiative fits well into our local public health model of minimizing community exposure, offering broad testing, and meeting all patients where they want to get their care – in their personal physician’s office,” said Dr. Jason Marker, associate program director at the Memorial Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program. “Our patients need one-stop shopping when they get sick.”

Beacon Medical Group patients will stay in their car and be brought by staff into the building through a private entrance next to the ventilated respiratory exam rooms. After receiving treatment from their provider, patients leave through the same designated exterior entrance. 

“The patient never walks through the clinic, never goes through our common waiting area and we eliminate the overall exposure and accomplished the goal of social distancing for care,” said Tim McGovern, Beacon Medical Group executive director. “Our goal was to simplify the process for patients so they know where they can get treated if they are experiencing respiratory or COVID symptoms.”

Patients who are experiencing symptoms that they would normally blame on a cold, sinus infection, flu, strep throat or other respiratory illness — especially if they have underlying health conditions — should contact their doctor’s office.

Dr. Chris Hall explains the new respiratory model.

These initial conversations could result in an in-person visit in a traditional doctor’s office, in a visit to a respiratory clinic, or in a telehealth visit. Beacon Medical Group physicians are continuing to offer telehealth as an alternative to some in-person appointments.

“The increasing number of COVID-19 patients, combined with patients presenting with flu symptoms this fall and winter, could easily overwhelm the emergency departments and hospitals,” said Dr. Christopher Hall, a family physician who practices at Beacon Medical Group Cleveland Road in South Bend. “We needed a way to evaluate and treat this influx of respiratory patients in areas separate from other patients seeking our care.”

Beacon expects to have rapid testing available at these sites for influenza, strep throat and RSV later this fall.