When Dr. Erika Roshanravan, a family physician with CommuniCare in Woodland, CA, thinks back to her patient visits prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one way she drew their deep-seated concerns was to ask the reason for the visit and to interject throughout, “Is there anything else?”
And it’s asking that question during phone and video visits that has also helped her understand the true reason for her patients’ needs now, she told people who attended an ACEs Aware webinar on April 29 entitled: “Building trauma-informed connections via teleheath during COVID-19.” The other speakers were Dr. Dayna Long, a pediatrician and director of the Center for Child and Community Health at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and Lisa James, the director of health with Futures Without Violence.
“It is not until I ask for the fourth or fifth time that the patient tells me the real reason they’re having a visit today,” said Roshanravan. That technique has been especially useful during a telephone call, where she does not have any visual cues to decipher patients’ responses, and it makes her patients feel as if “they’ve been heard.”
Long also noted that empowering patients is central to trauma-informed telehealth visits. “The education that is so important for our families to hear right now is they are doing a great job and they have an immense amount of resilience already,” she said.
James agreed that now, more than ever, is a time to provide care to patients that is compassionate, particularly for survivors of intimate partner violence, “because you as a provider may be the only one whom this patient is allowed to speak to outside the home,” she said.
People who use violence to control others “might listen in on visits, might monitor texts, might monitor web history,” she explained. As such, she said it was important to provide general information to them about domestic violence, “so it’s opening up that conversation and giving the information, but not pushing for disclosure.”
Topics covered during the webinar included:
- How telehealth removes barriers to care and offers a window into patients’ lives;
- The importance of reaching out to patients to offer telehealth visits, particularly for those who are vulnerable;
- Strategies to safely offer information and support to patients who are experiencing intimate partner violence;
- Simple strategies to offer patients to help manage stress, which can be found in the Office of the California Surgeon General Playbooks.
To view a recording of the webinar, please click here or visit acesaware.org for more information and materials.