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The Quad: A guide to UCLA’s health care services during COVID-19 pandemic

(Farrah Au-Yeung/Daily Bruin)

By Cecile Wu

May. 5, 2020 7:39 pm

A few months ago, spraining a wrist or having some stomach pain would lead to a regular check-up at the hospital. But with COVID-19 changing almost all aspects of our lives, how do you know where to go for these needs?

UCLA students benefit from services like the Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for their health care needs, but with remote learning, students may be wondering how to access these services at home. Luckily, these centers have adapted to pandemic conditions and the Quad is here with a guide to what’s available.

To start, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has undergone significant changes due to COVID-19: primarily, the move to dedicating resources to treating and testing coronavirus.

The hospital is conducting in-house tests, with hospital staff currently having the capacity to run 500 tests per day. In order to get tested as a UCLA health patient, patients must have an order from a primary care physician and a scheduled appointment.

Besides testing and treatment, the medical center is largely converting visits to telehealth, citing that it minimizes chances for exposure and transmission. In the first week of April, Reagan had around 13,000 telehealth visits, a considerable uptick from their usual 100 per week before the pandemic. These video visits are covered by most health insurance plans, as well as Medicare.

In-person visits are still allowed, but only in certain cases. However, Phil Hampton, a UCLA Health representative, said in an email statement that surgery appointments may start up again.

“UCLA Health is carefully planning the return of essential surgeries and procedures – focusing on those postponed over the past seven weeks because of the pandemic and those that have become time-sensitive for the patient’s condition,” Hampton said.

To ensure safety within the hospital, any staff and visitors are screened for symptoms before entering the facilities. All patients admitted to the hospital are tested, and most outpatients – those who receive treatment without being admitted – are tested as well before entering.

[Related: Even with COVID-19, it is crucial nursing students get enough hands-on training]

 

Though the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center serves as a key medical hub in the UCLA community, many students counted on Ashe for their primary care while at school. Now, Ashe continues to address the needs of the students, whether on campus or not.

Ashe services are still largely available through its telehealth system, which has just recently included weekend visits as well. However, dentistry and optometry will not have a remote component. Besides telemedicine visits through Zoom, Ashe has also set up a mail-order pharmacy that can ship most medications to students, but only to those living in California.

John Bollard, the interim Ashe Co-Executive Director, said in an email statement that the current version of Ashe services will stick around for the time being.

“We anticipate that most visits will happen this way at least through summer, though in-person visits are available, as appropriate,” Bollard said.

As Bollard mentioned, Ashe is still maintaining its essential services. On-site visits for appropriate situations, such as physical therapy, specialty women’s health and primary care visits, will still be allowed. In addition, COVID-19 testing for those presenting symptoms will also be available at Ashe, as well as antibody testing.

While Ashe has adjusted to both remote and on-site care, CAPS has made a complete move towards telehealth.

Therapy and psychiatric care through CAPS is now conducted fully through Zoom or phone call. Staff members work from home in confidential spaces to ensure privacy with patients.

However, when it comes to students taking advantage of their services during these hard times, there hasn’t been high demand, Executive Director of CAPS Nicole Green said in an email statement.

“CAPS is seeing about a 65% drop off in new students seeking services,” Green said. “CAPS is seeing that students who were already in care prior to COVID remain in treatment and our follow-up care appointments remain relatively stable in therapy and psychiatry.”

[Related: Student organizations collaborate to create 3D-printed PPE for hospitals]

 

For Bruins who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed during their quarter at home, CAPS is available through the phone. Students in California who want to initiate treatment at CAPS can do so by calling CAPS and participating in a same-day trial appointment. Out-of-state students are offered referrals in their home state through UC SHIP or their private insurance.

For any students already in treatment, regardless of location, CAPS is providing follow-up care for as long as is appropriate. This commitment comes with CAPS’ decision to cancel session limits for the rest of the school year until the end of this summer.

CAPS has also restarted group therapy sessions through Zoom and RISE wellness programs like peer coaching, stress management, yoga and meditation. And according to Green, CAPS is focusing on providing care for undocumented students, LGBT students and students in certain schools like Anderson and Samueli Engineering.

As UCLA Health continues to transition into telehealth to accommodate students across the world, keep these adapted services in mind in case you find yourself in need of treatment during these difficult times. It may feel strange to see your doctor over Zoom, but hopefully, those yearly check-ups at the office will be in-person again soon.

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Cecile Wu | Assistant Blogging editor
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