Virtual Health Care: Right Here at Home

After the July 2020 acquisition of Goleta-based InTouch Health—for approximately $150 million in cash and 4.6 million shares of stock—Teladoc Health is well positioned in the global telehealth market and also a large employer here, with about 230 positions in Santa Barbara County. Joe DeVivo, Teladoc’s president of hospitals and health systems, discussed the technology, ever more important during COVID.

WHAT DOES TELADOC DO? The mission of Teladoc Health is to transform how people access and experience health-care around the world. With virtual care, we are enabling patients to access care on their terms—from general medical issues like cold and flu to chronic conditions, including mental health, and complicated medical issues.

HOW HAS THE COMPANY GROWN? Teladoc Health was established for what has come to be known as virtual urgent care: providing access to board-certified physicians via phone, app, or website for acute health needs like cold, flu, upper respiratory issues, pinkeye, and more.

Through multiple acquisitions, the company not only expanded globally, now operating in 175 countries, but also added clinical capabilities, covering more health conditions across the spectrum of care, including dermatology, mental health, expert medical services, and more.

HOW IS THE PANDEMIC AMPLIFYING THINGS? COVID-19 has exponentially increased the number of hospitals and health systems utilizing virtual-care platforms as well as expanded the use cases for those who had already deployed a virtual-care platform. While we knew in January that the InTouch transaction would play a key role in our growth, we couldn’t have predicted the level of need it’s enabling us to meet for hospital systems now motivated to create comprehensive virtual-care strategies.

Our pipeline with hospitals and health systems remains strong for the rest of 2020 and 2021, set to grow over 35 percent in 2020. Teladoc Health is now partnering with more than 60 of the top 100 hospitals.

WHAT IS INTOUCH FOUNDER YULUN WANG’S CURRENT ROLE? In his capacity as fellow with Teladoc Health, Yulun Wang will now focus on the importance of growing virtual health-care opportunities for underserved populations around the globe with the World Telehealth Initiative. We will continue to foster the Teladoc Health relationship with UCSB, and we also see expanding opportunities for students to participate in Yulun’s work with the World Telehealth Initiative.  intouchhealth.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

The Cutting Edge of Robotic Surgery

Robots are no longer a futuristic notion. In fact, they’re becoming more and more common in nearby operating rooms. Robotic surgery is an advanced form of minimally invasive surgery that makes use of computer-controlled robots to do what humans can’t—and also to do what surgeons can, only better.

Think about how bulky human hands are when compared to a robot’s. “The robotic instruments are articulated at the end of the instrument where the working end is, so the working end can move like a hand would, as if it had a wrist,” explained Dr. Anne Rodriguez, a gynecologic oncologist and breast surgeon who heads up the Cottage Health Robotic Surgery team.

“That gives you the ability to maneuver much more than you would with a straight instrument. And that ability can get you into small spaces, can get you into difficult spaces, and can allow you to do a lot finer technique, so to speak.”

In 2019, the Cottage Robotic Surgery Center performed 574 robotic surgery procedures with the da Vinci XI manufactured by Intuitive. The most common surgery was hysterectomy, with 117 of them performed last year, said Maria Zate, the hospital’s public relations manager, followed by prostatectomy and hernia.

Dr. William Gallivan of the Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara is a big proponent of the technology. “In 2005, I started using computer navigation,” said Gallivan. “It was new technology back then, and I haven’t gone back.” He’s performed robotic surgeries on knees since 2014, tallying 350 surgeries as of August 2020, using the NAVIO Surgical System and recently the MAKO Robotic-Arm System.

The precision advantages of robotics for knee surgeries are critical. “When we use robotics, we can actually do a better preservation of bone,” he said. “For young people who want to be active, they will be able to have a very high level of activity. We’ve got this technology that allows better preservation and maintenance of bone and other soft tissues and is very effective.”

Rodriguez also pointed out the advantages of the robots for surgeons themselves. “You’re basically sitting at a console to control the instrument rather than controlling the instrument at the bedside,” she said. “So ergonomically, it’s easier on the surgeon and that gives advantages both short-term and long-term in terms of your ability to continue to do surgery.”

Other advantages include shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries, in part because there is less need for narcotic pain medicine.

“About 95 percent of my patients are wide awake with a spinal anesthetic,” said Gallivan. “It’s the safest way to do it, and the patients have more fun being awake.” Patients can listen to music (“unless it’s something bad,” he laughed) and watch 3D models and cartoon versions of the operation.

Virtually scar-less, single-site surgeries can also be handled by robots, such as single-incision hysterectomies. Rather than making several incisions, the robotic process makes just one incision through the belly button, which decreases blood loss and shortens recovery time.

“Robots have obviously been used for a long time by the aviation, automotive, and military [sectors], and then health care,” said Gallivan. “But the robotic technology has never diminished or exited from an industry that’s adopted it. It’s not going anywhere. I’m a firm believer that this technology we’re using is here to stay.”

THE BIRTHPLACE OF MODERN SURGICAL ROBOTICS

UCSB graduate Dr. Yulun Wang is considered one of the fathers of modern surgical robotics. The founder of both InTouch Health and Computer Motion, Wang developed AESOP, the first FDA-approved surgical robot (1990), and the ZEUS Robotic Surgical System. ZEUS was used in the world’s first tele-surgery procedure, known as the Lindbergh Operation, in 2001. The da Vinci surgical system now used by Cottage Health was developed by Intuitive Surgical following its merger with Computer Motion in 2003.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Local Ingredients at Your Door

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, Local Ingredients at Your Door, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

For home cooks, there’s nothing better than bringing the farm—or ranch or fishery—right to your door with a CSA delivery. With much of the food earmarked for restaurants going unclaimed, local purveyors have modified their financial models to deliver fresh food to consumers’ homes. With the enormous bounty of the Central Coast available, it may never be a better time to find businesses like these:

Santa Paula–based Prancers Farm (prancersfarm.com) delivers a fresh assortment of staples, including beans, rice, oranges, lemons, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, strawberries, bananas, onions, and lettuce, with eggs, sweets, sauces, and other items available as add-ons.

Larder Meat Co. (lardermeatco.com) of San Luis Obispo supports small family farms on the Central Coast by delivering monthly options like pasture raised meats, heirloom chicken, heritage pork, and grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Owner and chef Jensen Lorenzen includes a pantry item, seasoning and recipes to make preparation a snap.

Get Hooked Seafood (gethookedseafood.com) is a community-supported fishery that delivers a specific type of seasonal seafood from Santa Barbara fishermen each week. Additional fish and pantry items can be added to orders, which also come with the scoop about who caught the fish and how and where it was caught, as well as cooking tips and recipes.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

This special section for the Santa Barbara Independent features the following stories (click on links to read them or click here to see the issue as it appeared originally.

Introduction to Active Aging

Aging with Grace and Humor: Etta “Honey” Miller Celebrates 105th Birthday

Providing Healthy Food for Healthier Lives 

Time to Move to a Senior Living Facility? Westmont Living Experts Answer This Question and More

The Shift to Telemedicine: Dr. William Gallivan’s Orthopedic Institute Lead the New Way

Healthy People, Healthy Trails: Broad Collaboration is Taking Seniors Into Nature

Building Better Bone Health With Osteostrong: Wellness Studio Fights Against Osteoporosis

Reverse Mortgages 101: Mutual of Omaha’s Montecito Office Offers Planning Advice

When Families Help Families: Mission Villa’s Brother-Sister Transition Team

Meet the Society of Fearless Grandmothers: Seniors Band Together to Fight Earth’s Destruction

The Cremation Quiz: Simply Remembered Educates About End-of-Life Options

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

Time to Move to a Senior Living Facility?

Time to Move to Senior Living Facility, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Time to Move to Senior Living Facility, Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Westmont Living Experts Answer This Question and More

Today’s seniors and their loved ones have an abundance of choices when it’s time to move into a retirement community. But there remain many factors to consider when deciding the timing of that transition and determining which location is best for you. Experts from Westmont Living, which owns Mariposa at Ellwood Shores in Goleta, share their insights.

How do you know when it’s time to choose senior living?

“Ideally, families should start looking for an appropriate senior living community when when there isn’t a sense of urgency,” said Nick Begane, community relations director at Mariposa at Ellwood Shores, a senior community offering independent and assisted living as well as memory-care options.

Waiting lists can be very long for desirable senior living situations. Can you get on a waiting list even if you’re not quite ready to move?

“A family should start their research at least one year ahead of your desired move,” said Jack McCarty, vice president of sales and marketing for Westmont Living, which also runs The Oaks in Nipomo and will open The Oaks in Paso Robles in 2021. “When you find a place that meets a majority of your criteria, consider placing a deposit with the community so that you can secure a place when you are ready or when they have an opening.”

How can you tell if a place is right for you?

“Some communities allow short-term or respite stays,” said McCarty. “This allows for your parent(s) to spend time getting to know the community, those that work there, and to enjoy the amenities firsthand. Interestingly, some people stay rather than move out again. When that happens, it’s a win-win for the seniors and their families.”

What questions should you ask about a community?

• Is the building secure and do they follow the recommended CDC guidelines?

• How competent is their health support? Are they licensed to provide health services? Are nurses on-site every day? What are their COVID-19 procedures?

• Does the building look like a place that you would like to live?

• Do they have a fitness center or exercise options for optimum health and wellness?

• Is therapy after hospitalization available?

• Does the dining program provide the right menus?

“Once you have determined that a particular community is a good fit for your family member, then meet with a community relations person to review the payment structure and termination and refund policies,” said Begane.

How can you best learn about the culture and vibe?

“Ask to see the community schedule and look at the quality of the activities available and the frequency of social activities,” said McCarty. “Find out if the community can support the mind, body, and spiritual needs of your parent(s).

Stop by and have lunch and spend time observing your new home.”

COMMON SIGNS THAT EXTRA SUPPORT IS NEEDED INCLUDE

 short-term memory loss

 forgetting to pay bills

 not managing personal affairs

disorientation of time and place

 loss of normal judgement, such as making an illogical approach to a problem

 not cooking or eating regularly

 loss of weight

 poor home maintenance (dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, and clutter)

 poor personal hygiene (not bathing regularly, repeatedly wearing the same clothes without washing)

 not taking medication or following medicine instructions

 losing touch with friends, not socializing or participating in favorite activities

 showing signs of depression, like sleeping or crying

Westmont Living: westmontliving.com

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

Meet the Society of Fearless Grandmothers

Meet the Society of Fearless Grandmothers, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Meet the Society of Fearless Grandmothers, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

SENIORS BAND TOGETHER TO FIGHT EARTH’S DESTRUCTION

The planet is in grave danger, and a vibrant group of grandmother activists has banded together to battle against the potential destruction of the earth.

This may sound like the tagline for a bring-the-whole-family blockbuster movie, but these superheroes aren’t fictional—they’re working in our midst right here in Santa Barbara.

Committed to nonviolent action and demanding urgent measures to address the Earth’s climate emergency, Santa Barbara’s Society of Fearless Grandmothers was formed last October.

After their first training session—led by two of the founding grandmothers of the indigenous group Idle No More S.F. Bay, and the Bay Area Society of Fearless Grandmothers— the group quickly built momentum. They rallied in front of the County Administration Building on Valentine’s Day, demanding the denial of new fossil-fuel project permits; they hosted a virtual Earth Day art project collaboration with their grandchildren; and they wrote postcards as part of an NAACP effort to reach people in states where voting rights are under attack, urging them to make sure that they are registered and to pledge to vote in November.

“Our hope is that people will really start to talk about the climate crisis issue and demand that we take some action, because otherwise our grandchildren a children are going to be in a world of hurt,” said Irene Cooke, one of Santa Barbara’s Founding Grandmothers. She’s a longtime climate activist who moved from Colorado to Santa Barbara in 2018, primarily to be near her daughter and young grandson.

“I replaced my mountain hikes with beach walks, and it makes me so sad to walk these beaches and know that, when my grandson is my age, those beaches won’t be here,” said Cooke. “They’ll be underwater. There won’t be any beaches, not to mention the issues with food production and migration and disease. The climate crisis will impact every aspect of life on earth.”

Frustrated with the restrictions mandated by the pandemic, the Society of Fearless Grandmothers — which  has about 40 members ranging in age from their late fifties to 85 — is currently using technology and other physically distanced tools to demand that COVID-19 responses focus on a transition away from the fossil-fuel economy to a system that addresses climate justice and protects people, not profit.

They are also adamantly opposed to racial violence, and one of their official statements connects that movement to climate activism: “We recognize that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect people of color. We can no longer tolerate a planet where anyone’s right to breathe is compromised — whether by police brutality or by pollution.”

The Fearless Grandmothers fear that time is running out. “At a certain point, if enough action hasn’t been taken, it will be too late,” said Cooke. “And we’re not there yet. A lot of people have just said, ‘It’s too late, we can’t do anything,’ but that’s not true. The technology is there. It’s just a matter of the political will and people rising up to demand that we do something about this. That’s the main thing that we want to communicate.”

The Society of Fearless Grandmothers: fearlessgrandmotherssb.org

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

Building Better Bone Health With Osteostrong

Building Better Bone Health With Osteostrong, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Building Better Bone Health With Osteostrong, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

WELLNESS STUDIO FIGHTS AGAINST OSTEOPOROSIS

Almost everyone knows about the increased dangers of falling and breaking bones as we age. But traditional workout programs never really focused on enhancing bone strength to aid in the fight against osteoporosis.

OsteoStrong, a five-year-old wellness studio franchise operation owned by Yvonne and Jim Parsons, who originally brought Curves for Women to town, hopes to change that.

“We help people with issues with bone health,” said Yvonne, explaining that people stop producing the mineral and tissue that make our bones strong after we turn 30. “If you’re playing tennis or you’re doing high impact sports — hiking, running, tennis, those kinds of things—generally people maintain their bone mass. But as we age, especially for women, we start losing it when we start menopause because our body leaches the calcium out of our bones.”

That leads to osteoporosis or osteopenia, with half of all women and a third of all men over 50 eventually breaking a bone. “It’s the third leading cause of death after 65,” said Parsons ominously. “Forty percent of people who have a fracture will be staying in a nursing home after 65, and 20 percent will never walk again.”

Developed by biomechanics engineer John Jaquish, OsteoStrong works on the principle of “osteogenic” loading. Using super-resistance machines that cover every section of the body—a chest press, leg press, core pull, and skeleton-stressing vertical lift that resemble weight machines and feature feedback monitors

OsteoStrong clients come in once a week, briefly stand on vibration platforms to warm up, then exert 30 seconds of all-out force at each workout station. A session is designed to take approximately 10 minutes from start to finish.

Parsons offered a few analogies to explain how it works. “If you go into a dark room, how long does it take for your pupil to enlarge? If you start to put your hand on a fire, how quickly does your body respond by pulling it away?” she asked. “It just is like a nanosecond, so it only takes five seconds to hit the degree that you need to for the axial loading when you’re doing it on the equipment.”

Curious to try it out? An initial visit is free. osteostrong.me

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

Healthy People, Healthy Trails

Healthy People Healthy Trails, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Healthy People Healthy Trails, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

BROAD COLLABORATION IS TAKING SENIORS INTO NATURE

Even during pandemic times, hitting the sidewalks and trails of Santa Barbara is a surefire way to stay fit.

“Many doctors and other health professionals cite moderate physical activity, including walking, as a ‘magic pill’ for excellent health,” said Margaret Weiss, director of health education for Sansum Clinic. “It can maintain the body’s systems in good condition and reduce the risk of chronic illness.”

Plus, getting outside is free, requires no special equipment, and can relieve stress. With this in mind, a broad group of organizations — including CenCal Health, City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department, Cottage Health, Sansum Clinic, Healthy Lompoc Coalition, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, and Santa Barbara County Trails Council — developed Healthy People Healthy Trails to motivate people to embrace an active lifestyle and connect to the outdoors. The website offers maps to easy and enjoyable walks around Santa Barbara County.

Walking is a particularly good activity for older adults, as it can be done year-round by people of all ages and abilities. “Walking serves many purposes — exercise, fun, and transportation,” said Weiss. “And in challenging times, such as the pandemic, walking is an  effective stress reliever and provides a distraction from everyday worries.”

To maintain good health, experts suggest 30 minutes of activity on most days, 60 minutes for youth. But not even these moderate goals are being achieved, said Weiss, explaining, “Less than 25 percent of adults and less than 50 percent of youth get the recommended amount of activity.”

For older adults, such activity is known to extend lifespans, reduce the risk of falls, improve balance and agility, prevent osteoporosis and muscle loss, and delay the onset of cognitive decline. And evidence suggests that when the exercise is done outdoors, nature enhances the health benefits.

“Recent studies compared people who walked in a forest with people who walked in a city,” said Weiss. “Consistently, even when the groups switched locations, those who were in nature had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure, and lower pulse rates.”

At a time when we are all advised to stay home as much as possible, especially seniors, walking around your neighborhood or in a nearby park can be the safest, easiest choice. For those just starting a walking program, Weiss suggested finding somewhere flat and firm, but also somewhere that is interesting. “Walking is great for health, and it is even better when you get a glimpse of the mountains, the ocean, or a beautiful tree in your neighborhood,” she said.

Healthy People Healthy Trails: healthypeoplehealthytrails.org/easy-hikes

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

Introduction to Active Aging

Introduction to Active Aging, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

Introduction to Active Aging, Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

We’re living in a strange time for seniors. Old people have never been so powerful — or so vulnerable.

We’ve got a 74-year-old in the White House, put there in part by a cable news network controlled by a mega-wealthy 89-year-old. Then we’ve got a 77-year-old presidential nominee, who won the Democratic nomination over a 78-year-old Senator preferred by many, if not most, young people in the primaries. And don’t get me started about the future of some of our most crucial rights that may rest on the survival of an 87-year-old Supreme Court Justice.

At the same time, almost 80 percent of those who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. were 65 or older. That’s left many seniors staying close to home, feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable and uncomfortably dependent on the benevolence of family, neighbors, and Good Samaritans.

If you’re fortunate enough, as I am, to have your parents still around, part of the challenge of middle-aging is watching your own parents age. We’re tiptoeing onto that sensitive tightrope of still being their children, while slowly becoming their caregivers.

As Bette Davis famously said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” But staying active, engaged, and prepared for the future with solid plans in place will certainly make all of our golden years shine a lot brighter.

With that in mind, this promotional section was developed from a combination of editorial ideas and suggestions from the special issue’s sponsors about people, projects, and trends that they’re excited about. From that list, we selected stories that represent a wide variety of “active aging” ideas in Santa Barbara and developed the editorial content independently.

Cheers to strong and vibrant finish!

—Leslie Dinaberg

PANDEMIC RESOURCES FOR SENIORS

Accessing information about community resources for seniors is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Family Service Agency is collaborating with many other nonprofits to provide a one stop gateway to critical resources for the health and well being of the seniors in our community. See fsacares.org/senior-resources.

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.

The Shift to Telemedicine

The Shift to Telemedicine, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

The Shift to Telemedicine, from Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

DR. WILLIAM GALLIVAN’S ORTHOPEDIC INSTITUTE LEADS THE NEW WAY

All it took was a pandemic and a government-mandated shutdown, but it looks like telemedicine — the modern version of the house call — is here to stay.

Dr. William Gallivan and his team at Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara were using telemedicine on a limited basis for years before COVID-19, primarily for out-of-town patients who wanted to discuss possible surgical procedures and for short, post-surgical follow-up appointments. So when the pandemic mandated physicians to digitize their health-care process in March — while lifting some privacy restrictions to allow virtual exams — his office was better prepared than most. Even with restrictions now eased, the Orthopedic Institute is managing more than one-third of patient visits via telehealth.

In order to train seniors and other non-digital natives in the process, Gallivan is a “heavy utilizer of scribes,” enlisting tech-savvy, pre-med students to work with patients in advance of their appointments to set up remote communication. There’s a learning curve. “Sometimes it’s three or four calls to connect,” said Gallivan. “And with the outliers, it takes me two days of calling them to actually get a connection to do the telehealth. But most of them, more than 90 percent now, are set up and engaged with the telemedicine portal.”

How does this work for orthopedic exams, say, for a bad knee? “If it’s not a post-op, the patient actually can do a self-examination as we instruct them how to do it,” he said. “If we can see their range of motion, assess the swelling a little bit, and they can point out where it’s tender, we have a reasonable way to assess the problem and make recommendations.”

He plans to continue with telehealth as a bigger part of the practice even when the pandemic is over. Of course, he can’t replace the first post-op visit, when sutures are removed — “at least it would be a bit more of a challenge,” he said — but telemedicine works well for the six-week checkups.

“We can really be quite effective,” he said. “The communication has been excellent. Actually, some of it may even be better than the in-person stuff, because you are looking at the screen, instead of staring at a knee most of the time, you’ve got the patient’s face right there. The nonverbal communication is important, and I think we get that with telemedicine pretty well.”

He’s been happily surprised with how well it works, leaving visits confident that he provided a good service and not a second-rate one just because it is remote.

“It’s certainly not perfect, and I’m a big fan of in-person communication,” he said. “But the efficiency of not having sick people that have to travel for a meeting, and being able to get stuff done and having direct communication, is enhanced.”

Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara: gallivanmd.com

Active Aging 2020: Our Annual Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens; Santa Barbara Independent, Active Aging Special Section, July 30, 2020.

 

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on July 30, 2020. To view the Active Aging Guide to Senior Life, Seen Through a Pandemic Lens, click here.