Lee Health, NCH offering free 24/7 telehealth as COVID cases fill ERs

Published: January 7, 2022 5:58 AM EST
Updated: January 7, 2022 6:21 AM EST

As surging COVID-19 cases fill hospitals, leading to hourslong wait times at emergency rooms and urgent care facilities, there’s an easier and free option to get care. Both Lee Health and NCH are waiving normal fees for telehealth, and you can do it from anywhere at any time.

Lee Health is really encouraging people to use the service and making it very easy to use.
Normally, it costs about $50 per visit, but right now it is free and the service is available 24/7.

“The magic of telehealth is that you can be anywhere, so you can be in your bedroom, you can be, you know, on your smartphone or computer,” said Jonathan Witenko, the system director of virtual health and telemedicine at Lee Health. “I’ve used that many times, personally; I’ve got five children, and being able to do a visit right from the bedroom, not have to go to the office, go to a waiting room and just spend the time there… it’s extremely convenient, being able to do it at your home or office.”

NCH is offering this service as well. It’s a way to keep the number of patients at their hospitals down. With the surge in COVID-19 cases because of the omicron variant, those health care systems are seeing more people than normal, so they want to make sure everybody can access care and stay out of the hospital if they can.

“Telehealth is perfect, too, for your own convenience, but also for to offload some of the burden that we’re seeing inside the emergency rooms in the hospitals, making sure the most appropriate patients get the right care,” Witenko said. “So for basic symptoms, for basic issues that can be easily done via telehealth, that’s what we’re encouraging.”