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Healing from a Safe Distance


Dr. Thomas Coburn

Despite the obstacles the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presented, Thomas Coburn, MD, family medicine physician and medical director of information technology for the ambulatory medical group, found a way to continue serving patients in Wilmore, Kentucky.

“I considered it a calling to go into medicine,” said Thomas Coburn, MD. “As an undergraduate at Duke University, I believed God was calling me to serve Him as a physician to those in great need in our inner cities. But while training at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, I realized there was just as great a need in the rural areas of Kentucky, my home.”

Since graduating in 1995 and completing his residency through the University of Kentucky College Of Medicine in 1998, Dr. Coburn has become an integral member of the Wilmore community as both a physician and neighbor.

“Wilmore is an amazing place where people can walk down Main Street, grab a coffee at Solomon’s Porch and catch up with friends because we are all neighbors,” Dr. Coburn said. “It’s been very difficult to maintain that sense of community during the novel coronavirus outbreak. We recognize, as a medical facility, we have to be vigilant to provide care for our patients in a safe way.”

A New Approach

CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group primary and specialty care practices began offering virtual care visits for patients using Zoom, a HIPAA-compliant videoconference tool. As the medical director of information technology for the ambulatory medical group, Dr. Coburn worked to make virtual care available to all CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group physicians and advanced practice providers.

“Patients depend upon their physicians for health and assurance,” Dr. Coburn said. “A lot of our patients need to have a way to see us and talk to us about their health. And we want to be able to see our patients and talk to them about what they’re facing. There’s nothing that can replace the personal interaction of a handshake or being face to face, but using a virtual care platform is the next best thing. Patients really appreciate that we’re finding ways to meet with them during this time of crisis.”

Make the Most of Your Virtual Care Visit

  • Set up the Zoom app on your mobile device or laptop one hour prior to your visit.
  • Don’t share your Zoom Personal Meeting ID.
  • Plan your meeting in a secure and comfortable place — no distractions.
  • Be prepared — have your list of personal information, medicines and any reports ready to discuss.
  • Check your temperature, weight, pulse rate and blood pressure prior to your visit.

To schedule a virtual visit with a CHI Saint Joseph Health provider, call 844.611.6877.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.

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