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Staying well together: Primary health care efforts evolving during pandemic

Due to a number of risk factors associated with the pandemic, Dr. Dionna Lomax, a Franciscan Physician Network physician, sees a trend of chronic conditions worsening, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain. The need to maintain health despite not being able to physically go to the clinic has been met with ingenuity and adaptation. 

Dr. Dionna Lomax

Our health is always important, but the focus on wellness has been amplified during the pandemic. With in-person care being drastically reduced, primary care has adapted to meet the needs of the patient in the new normal.

Due to a number of risk factors associated with the pandemic, Dr. Dionna Lomax, a Franciscan Physician Network physician, sees a trend of chronic conditions worsening, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain. The need to maintain health despite not being able to physically go to the clinic has been met with ingenuity and adaptation. 

One exceptional innovation in healthcare during the pandemic has been Telehealth. Though there was hesitancy with the process at first, patients began to accept and get used to virtual primary care. Factors such as access and understanding of the technology can prove to be a barrier, but Lomax and other physicians have been understanding and talk patients through it.

Lomax reflects on an example of Telehealth with one of her oldest patients, who is a little over 100 years old. While getting to the clinic was an issue, through Telehealth and video, the patient’s family was able to set her up to be treated through video.

“It is pretty incredible to be able to provide that service to patients who may have mobility issues,” the doctor said. “Instead of having to physically be able to come into the clinic once a month, with Telehealth we can reduce in-person visits to once or twice a year and check in with video every month.

One of the biggest challenges is still combating the spread of the pandemic, especially in minority communities. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States have occurred among African Americans, despite the fact they comprise just 13% of the national population. 

Though these numbers are alarming, there has still been hesitancy with taking the COVID-19 vaccination, primarily in African American communities, where based on history, there has been a distrust of vaccinations.  

Lomax has heard too many cases of people dying due to the pandemic. She received her vaccination shots and reaffirms confidence in the medical field. 

“The only way to move past this is that we have to trust in science and research,” she advises. 

Outside of the pandemic, many people still need to maintain their health, especially being indoors more often. Dr. Lomax advises people to keep their movement up with regular physical activity, which also helps mental health as well. There are various online resources available to stay active for 30 minutes a day, such as workout classes. 

“People have to find ways to be more active, even if you have to involve family and children in it,” says Lomax. “You always have to stay active and keep moving in every stage of life you are in. When you live your life in moderation and stay active, you’ll stay happy and healthy.”

Though the nature of primary health care has transformed, the essentials of making sure patients are healthy continues to be top priority.  

For additional information on finding a doctor, visit FranciscanPhysiciansNetwork.org or call 708-679-2370.

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