by Barbara Reina


Dr. Cristi Freinberg-Trufas, DDS, MS, FAGD, of Hudson Valley Dental Care, PC uses teledentistry during the
coronavirus pandemic to remotely handle patients' issues. Photo contributed 

Teleconferencing, live video chats and telemedicine. Once the idealistic musings of futuristic novels and early morning cartoons, these methods of remote togetherness have become the norm in the days of the coronavirus.

If you grew up watching “The Jetsons” cartoon family, your vision of the 21st century included video chats with workmates, friends and family, along with reading your news on a screen, just as you may be doing right now. And your weekly dose of “The Brady Bunch” television show may have started with looking at these family members in little boxes on your screen.

Does any of this sound familiar? These turnings of imaginings into reality are more than just gadgets to play with during the coronavirus pandemic. They have become a lifeline to health consultations and connections to the outside world for those of us who follow a stay-at-home order, shelter in place, are quarantined, or, worse yet, have tested positive for COVID-19.

While road traffic may have slowed down, emergency rooms and hospitals are still bustling with patients needing to be tested or treated for COVID-19. Telehealth is becoming more common to provide stay-at-home consultations between patients and medical professionals.

“I think that this outbreak has propelled us, as a medical and dental community, forward into telehealth in a more widespread and expedited way,” says Dr. Cristi Freinberg-Trufas, DDS, MS, FAGD of Hudson Valley Dental Care. “I’m grateful that this technology exists.”

Telemedicine allows you to discuss medical issues with a healthcare provider in real time. You can receive a diagnosis, learn your treatment options and be issued a prescription. Healthcare providers can remotely monitor readings from medical devices to keep an eye on your condition. Online patient portals, such as the Berkshire Patient Portal locally, allow patients to interact with their physicians, review the results of labs and other diagnostics and otherwise manage their health.

Telehealth takes telemedicine a few steps further. It provides for non-clinical events like appointment scheduling, as well as continuing medical education and physician training.

Can it work for older generations? For that answer, I need only to look at the experience of my 83-year-old mother recovering from cancer surgery in the Catskills. Recuperating at home, and no longer in need of chemotherapy treatments, the last thing she wants to do is enter a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic for a routine consultation. Because of telehealth and with some videoconferencing training, she doesn’t have to.

You don’t have to deal with a toothache on your own, either. “For the moment, anyone with a toothache is probably a teledentistry patient,” says Dr. Freinberg-Trufas. By using teledentistry, I am able to talk with my patient, review any photos or images of their dental problem they are able to provide, and determine if their situation rises to the level of true dental emergency. Most often, after a patient is evaluated, he or she is provided with a prescription and follow-up plan.”  

Stay healthy and safe. The future is here.