Physicians at Capital Health Medical Group Treat Patients For a Variety of Medical Issues
HEALTH AND WELLNESS: “Our philosophy is that it is easier to keep you healthy than to get you healthy after you become sick. So we have a great focus on preventive medicine and lifestyle modification to maximize health. We are also well-equipped and experienced to diagnose and treat illness, and help people restore their good health.” Jerrold S. Gertzman, MD, is a primary care physician and division director for Primary Care of the Capital Health Medical Group.
By Jean Stratton
Staying well and healthy is uppermost on all our minds — probably more than ever before as we continue to cope with COVID-19. Practically no one in the U.S. has experienced a pandemic of this magnitude (very few people are still alive who remember the deadly flu pandemic of 1918). The current ordeal has brought seemingly unending challenges.
All those who have worked hard to help us through this nightmare deserve our admiration and appreciation.
Of course, that includes all the heath care workers who, day in and day out, save lives.
The Capital Health Medical Group, an affiliate of Capital Health Medical Center, is committed to providing patients with the best care available. With locations in and around Mercer and Burlington Counties as well as Bucks County, Pa., it offers an extensive network of care, including more than 400 physicians and other providers who offer primary, specialty, and surgical care. 20 of the locations are for primary care, and 85 primary care physicians are affiliated with the Group.
The Princeton office is located at 811 Executive Drive, Building 8, but in March, it will move to 300 Witherspoon Street, where it will be a neighbor to Homestead Princeton gift shop, which recently moved to this location. Formerly home to the Princeton Packet, this site will offer attractive and convenient office space for the Medical Group.
Five board-certified physicians will see patients in the new location, and be available for wellness care and complete annual physical exams, as well as management of acute and chronic medical conditions.
In addition to treating the broad range of medical disorders — from head and back aches to sore throats, coughs, and bronchitis, most doctors today are continually on the lookout for COVID symptoms, and are also taking extra precautions to keep non-COVID patients safe.
“We have continued to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have gone to great lengths to keep our patients safe,” says Jerrold S. Gertzman, MD. “We offer telemedicine (video) for initial evaluation of patients with possible C0VID symptoms, and then follow them closely and evaluate them further with in-person visits and diagnostic testing when needed.”
As division director for Primary Care of the Capital Health Medical Group, Dr. Gertzman oversees all primary care offices of the Medical Group. In addition, he sees patients in Lawrenceville and Hamilton three days a week.
“We have treated thousands of people by telemedicine,” he continues. “At the onset of the pandemic we saw approximately 90 percent of our patients via telemedicine. Now it has converted to traditional in-person office visits for most patients, although telemedicine is always an option, if that is what the patient feels comfortable doing. Lately, we have been seeing approximately 25 percent of our patients by video visit.”
Topic of Conversation
While COVID is the topic of conversation of the day, Dr. Gertzman points out that the majority of cases he and the other primary care physicians see are non-COVID related. “Most of our patient visits are for routine follow-up of chronic medical problems such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. In addition, we perform many routine wellness physicals. We see plenty of colds and sinus infections as well as back pain and headaches too.”
The COVID cases have continued to come, however, and there is no question that New Jersey has had its share. The doctors and nurses are dedicated to providing the best care for these patients, says Dr. Gertzman.
“Physicians at Capital Health Medical group have treated hundreds and hundreds of COVID patients of all ages — from infants to the very elderly. Capital Health treats hospitalized patients with state-of-the-art medical therapies. We remain up-to-date on the continually advancing science when it comes to treating COVID-19. In the outpatient world, we follow every COVID patient very closely — from the time they are discharged from the hospital until they are well.
“Our primary goal is to prevent the need for a patient to be hospitalized. Again, it is easier to keep people healthy than to get them healthy once they become sick. For people we suspect of having COVID, we offer testing at one of our many outpatient facilities. We evaluate people via telemedicine and offer in-person exams and X-rays when needed.”
Testing can be arranged by any of the primary care physicians, he adds, and patients will be given a specific time to come for the test.
Dr. Gertzman does not believe it is necessary for an individual without symptoms to be tested. However, he points out that “once someone develops symptoms suggestive of COVID, they can be tested in order to determine how long they need to quarantine and so that their close contacts can gauge how long they need to be isolated until they can be confident they have not contracted the virus.
“Anyone can request a test through one of our primary care physicians although we need to be judicious in whom we refer for testing. Unfortunately, there is still a shortage of tests available so we need to reserve tests for patients who absolutely need them.
“There are options online for people who need a test so they can travel or attend some kind of event. There is not, however, any need for people to re-test once they have recovered from COVID-19. There is really no indication for people to get a test after they have recovered. Following the current CDC guidelines, once someone is 10 days from onset of symptoms and symptoms are improved, then they can consider themselves no longer contagious as long as they are 24 hours without a fever.”
He certainly advises everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from getting the virus. “People should practice social distancing and wear masks whenever they are in the presence of anyone outside their closest circle. In addition, carry hand sanitizer and use it often when you are out in public places.”
The next two months have been predicted to bring even more infections, and it is advisable to avoid being in large gatherings or traveling.
Even for those fortunate enough to escape getting the virus, the last ten months have taken a toll in many ways. The lack of human contact is depressing to many. The never-ending financial worries; the uncertainty of not knowing when it will end; and the inability to come and go as one pleases (something always taken for granted in the past) are all part of the new norm for so many of us today.
While many people have adopted dogs and cats as new companions during this time, and others have taken up cycling and other outdoor exercise programs, or engaged in new hobbies or online courses, for others, it has been a bleak, dark daily struggle.
“Nearly everyone has been feeling the stress from this pandemic,” explains Dr. Gertzman. “The isolation can be terrible, especially when compounded by financial stress and fears about one’s health. People should reach out to the people in their lives. Offer emotional support and ask for support when needed. The best way to cope with the isolation is to maintain your social circle, even if that is mostly virtual/online. I’ve been impressed by how much people benefit from visual (Zoom) parties and visual Happy Hours. People have become very creative, sending videos to each other and posting uplifting messages on social media.
“In addition, there is no substitute for good nutrition and routine exercise. Even though gyms are closed or if people feel uncomfortable going to gyms because of the virus, they can and should continue to exercise. There are many great online options for exercise — classes, videos, etc. People have had a lot of fun and great success arranging exercise groups online with their friends, but working out at home by yourself is also easy to do. Now that so many people are working from home, they should spend the time they formerly used commuting for exercise.”
Now, with recent news of a new strain of the virus in England, many people are concerned that we will face yet another pandemic to worry about.
“Viruses mutate and change over time,” points out Dr. Gertzman. “So far, it does not seem that the strain they discovered in the UK is any more lethal or dangerous than others. So far, there is every reason to be confident that one’s natural immunity or the vaccines that are being distributed will protect you from the virus, including the strains recently identified in the U.K.
“We are learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. From what we know, people who have the virus develop antibodies. This protects them from reinfection for anywhere between three months and a year, potentially more. We will continue to find out more as time goes on.”
As 2020 approaches its final days, most of us are glad to see it go, and hope for a better New Year.
Acts of Kindness
And despite all the hardships and struggle, it should not be forgotten that many individuals, companies, organizations, and houses of worship have reached out again and again to help people. Checking on neighbors, running errands for them, contributing to food pantries, arranging for food deliveries — the list goes on, including unexpected random acts of kindness.
As Dr. Gertzman points out, “There are a lot positive, uplifting things that have come out of the pandemic. Americans are resilient people. They step up and face challenges and help their neighbors. Americans cope and Americans find solutions. While there has been tremendous loss with the pandemic, and an unthinkable number of people have died, we have risen to these challenges and prevented far more illness and saved many more lives thanks to our health care system and our research scientists.”
Indeed, throughout it all, there have been those special heroes of 2020. The first responders, the grocery store clerks, the restaurants trying to keep their doors open or shifting to outdoor service, and certainly, the health care professionals — doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, and other providers. For them, the daily impact and exposure to the virus is relentless and daunting.
“Health care workers are certainly feeling stressed, although they are coping well,” reports Dr. Gertzman. “Once the initial shortage of PPE resolved at the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers were well-protected. It is still a very stressful situation at times, but our training and dedication allows us to handle it well.”
Those who live their lives caring for others often risk their own, and that should always be remembered.
For more information on Capital Health Medical Group, call the Princeton office at (609) 303-4600, or visit the website at capitalhealth.org or capital health.org/princeton.