PRESS RELEASE, Issued 4/8/20
Vanguard Skin Specialists, a dermatology and plastic surgery practice in southern Colorado, is offering “Free Fridays” in April to help patients who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus and are unable to afford dermatology care.
“Our mission is the make a positive impact on our patients, our community, and our world,” shares Executive Director Leisle Chung, “So as businesses close and unemployment rises, our team feels strongly that we need to use our expertise to help those affected.”
Vanguard has set aside ~10% of its weekly appointment slots to take care of patients in need. Every Friday in April, Vanguard medical providers offer complimentary medical care through Vanguard Virtual Visits. If someone has been laid off or furloughed, and as a result, cannot afford to pay, then Vanguard is waiving the patients’ fees.
Federal and state guidelines require medical practices to delay most surgeries and procedures in order to preserve masks, gloves, and hospital beds. Additionally, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends delaying non-urgent, non-acute in-office visits. In response, Vanguard Skin Specialists launched Vanguard Virtual Visits. Currently, over 90% of Vanguard’s patient care is delivered through video, photographs, and/or phone calls. Vanguard’s medical providers have conducted hundreds of telemedicine or teledermatology visits, maintaining patient care while keeping patients safely at home.
Dr. Maria Sheron helped launch Vanguard’s teledermatology program, and she explains, “Patients continue to have skin issues which need medical care, and they can get the care they need from the safety and convenience of their homes. We also want to do what we can, so that patients do not need to go to the emergency room or urgent care centers. This reduces the burden on the medical providers and facilities that are at the front lines of this crisis.”
Dermatology has been a specialty well suited to virtual visits for many conditions. Most dermatology issues are visible through video and photographs. In the instances where a suspicious lesion could be an aggressive skin cancer that cannot be delayed, Vanguard will set up a secure visit on site. Acute and serious conditions are also evaluated virtually first to determine whether an onsite visit is necessary.
In order to make the virtual visit as seamless as possible, a Vanguard team member calls the patient before the visit and walks the patient through the steps to get online. For patients who prefer to send photographs and schedule a phone call, Vanguard also accommodates that option.
Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and most commercial payers are currently covering virtual visits, making this a readily available service for patients.
“Our primary goal is to keep people at home,” shares Dr. Vinh Chung, “and we are fortunate that we’ve been able to continue delivering patient care. I’m grateful to work with a generous and dedicated team of colleagues who are honored to help patients, including those who cannot afford care right now.”
To request a Vanguard Virtual Visit or for more information on Free Virtual Fridays, go to www.vanguardskin.com or call 719-355-1585. The Free Friday service is provided to residents of counties where Vanguard has an office (El Paso, Fremont, Pueblo, and Teller Counties).
About Vanguard Skin Specialists:
Vanguard Skin Specialists is a physician-led dermatology and plastic surgery practice with offices in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Canon City, and Woodland Park. Vanguard’s mission is to make a positive impact on patients, community, and the world.