Facing a changing health care landscape during the coronavirus pandemic, CommUnityCare Health Centers announced it is offering new services to increase efficiency and safety throughout its Austin clinics.

CommUnityCare, which is funded by Travis County’s health care district, Central Health, on March 23 announced it is offering telemedicine appointments to its patients.

“The best thing for people to do right now is to stay at home,” CommUnityCare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alan Schalscha said in a March 23 news release. “By caring for patients over the phone, we can limit potential COVID-19 exposure for patients, staff, and our community—and ultimately help slow the spread of this disease.”

Appointments eligible for telemedicine service include chronic disease management for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure as well as acute medical conditions that do not require lab work, according to CommUnityCare.

Telemedicine appointments allow patients to receive medical appointments over the phone, which limits potential interactions between patients and health care professionals. This is important at a time when health care professionals and personal protective equipment, such as medical face masks, are in high demand nationwide, CommUnityCare stated in its news release.

CommUnityCare is further aiming to soon launch video conferencing services for patients, according to the health care provider, and its goal is to serve up to 50% of its appointments over the phone by the end of the week.

In a further move to increase social distancing measures between patients and health care staff, Central Health in a March 24 news release said CommUnityCare’s Central Pharmacy is offering curbside service at its Central Health Southeast Health and Wellness Center.

CommUnityCare will fill 30-day supplies for prescriptions, though CommUnityCare in the March 24 news release stated it prefers to deliver those 30-day supplies through the United States Postal Service.

“We will do whatever we can to make sure no one goes without their medications,” CommUnityCare Pharmacy Director Cristie Pelligrini said in the March 24 news release. “We encourage our patients to use home delivery first if possible, or their regular pharmacy to ensure they have at least a 30 days’ supply of medications on hand. If those aren’t options, we will fill and deliver medications curbside.”

Patients who require assistance with prescription refills are advised to call CommUnityCare at 512-978-8139 if their regular pharmacy or home delivery is not an option.