KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Medical professionals say people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are five times more likely to contract Covid-19.
A tele-medicine service called Station MD is now available to all of Missouri's Medicaid Waiver recipients. The remote practice recently announced a partnership with the state.
The service connects people with IDD and their Director Support Professionals with licensed physicians with the click of a button.
Dr. Maulik Trivedi said the goal of the service is to keep people with IDD at home and out of hospitals and doctor's offices, which helps decrease their risk of contracting COVID-19.
"What we saw was unnecessary visits to the emergency room or urgent care for this population, and we really thought we could treat them better," Trivedi said. "If you can stay at home right now that's the most important thing, especially this population, they are more vulnerable to COVID."
The Center for Developmentally Disabled in Kansas City, Missouri, began using the service in April.
Chief Program Officer Sarah West said the organization jumped on board as soon as possible because of the benefits to staff and people with IDD.
"Our staff are not medical professionals and when it comes to someone having a medical issue, just having the option for staff to get online with Station MD to ask any question and see if someone needs to get seen in an ER," West said. "The Station MD doctors are able to see people and send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy, they're able to send us documentation of the visit."
David Earls said he and his 34-year-old son Edward, who was diagnosed with non-verbal Down Syndrome, benefited from the service last month when Edward spiked a fever.
Earls said staff at Edward's living facility wanted to send him to the ER due to concerns about Coronavirus.
Before going to the ER Edward had a virtual consultation with a Station MD doctor who took a closer look at his symptoms and advised him to stay home and take Tylenol.
Earls said Edward's fever broke over night, and the expert opinion saved both of them a trip to the ER, which would have required them to go into a 14-day quarantine before Edward could return to his living community.
"Had I taken him to the emergency room, we would have been faced with very difficult circumstances; Where would we go for quarantine, I don't know," Earls said.
Trivedi said about 80 to 90 percent of the time during Station MD visits, the person with IDD can be treated at home.
"We also have the ability to look at their medical history, get an idea of their past medical problems and see what medications they are on," Trivedi said.
West said she hopes the Missouri Department of Mental Health continues to fund the service so the CDD can continue to use it even after the pandemic.
Trivedi said the service has received hundreds of call over the past few months and has the capacity to handle many more.
For more information about eligibility and access to StationMD’s services, please visit Missouri's Department of Mental Health – Division of Developmental Disabilities website, or visit StationMD’s webpage about the Missouri partnership.