Importance of Not Delaying Medical Care

Aug 26, 2020

Dear fellow community members and colleagues,

For most of this year, we have heard how these are “unprecedented times.” I have said these words myself – even to myself. True as they are, I want to ask you for a few moments to re-engage you on important health concerns that not only have precedent, but also should take precedence.

One concern we have as a health care community is that people are not getting their regular tests and screenings. For example, screenings for some of the most common types of cancers (cervix, colon, and breast) have decreased dramatically compared to the years before the pandemic. This is alarming because, if cancer is found before symptoms appear, it is often easier to treat and is less likely to have spread. Ensuring we are being screened needs to be a priority and take precedence ahead of fear of the unknown.

Similarly, another significant concern is that we have seen is that people across the county are delaying care due to concerns about going to hospitals. Unfortunately, that can have life-altering consequences. Quick response is critical for treatment and recovery, and no one should ever delay care for any reason.

Therefore, I want to share two significant initiatives we have implemented to help our communities during the pandemic, which ensure you continue to have access to the right care at the right time and place.

First, our Tenet Health Central Coast hospitals maintain distinct COVID SAFE and COVID CARE Zones – separate areas for patients, with clear signage and rigorous protocols – to safeguard the health of patients, nurses, doctors and staff.

Just as importantly, we have created a groundbreaking new option for patients who are nervous about whether they should come to the emergency room: Tele-ER. Tele-ER allows anyone to talk to a board-certified Emergency Room physician 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the safety of their home.

The great advantage of Tele-ER, which you can access on our website or by calling (805) 546-7990, is that it provides immediate access for patients and, many times, they will have already seen our doctors virtually if they do need to come in-person to the Emergency Department. This is a safe and affordable way to access care when there might be an emergency: The virtual visit cost is typically $20 for Medicare patients (that do not require follow-up in-person care) and Tele-ER may be eligible for reimbursement from other insurance providers as well.

Peace of mind is an important part of a sound body, and providing our Tele-ER option is yet another way we want to reinforce your confidence that you can still access safe and high-quality care in our hospitals – and via virtual visits – whichever is most appropriate.


Mark Lisa, CEO
Tenet Health Central Coast