Dr. Christopher Faber, Director of Outpatient Services, UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center discusses the cutting edge and individualized care available for patients dealing with a range of lung issues from mild conditions to complex diseases.
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– This podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical care or advice. Clinicians should rely on their own medical judgments when advising their patients. Patients in need of medical care should consult their personal care provider. From diagnosis to advanced treatments and care.
Welcome to the UPMC HealthBeat Podcast. I’m Tonia Caruso, and joining us right now is Dr. Christopher Faber. He is the director of Outpatient Services at the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center. Dr. Faber, thanks so much for joining us.
– Thank you for having me.
– So let’s begin by telling people what exactly takes place at the Comprehensive Lung Center.
– Comprehensive Lung Center is a multidisciplinary clinical care area that is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of lung diseases, ranging from symptoms of cough and shortness of breath to asthma, emphysema, interstitial lung disease, sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, transplant medicine, and pulmonary vascular diseases.
– And so you have experts in all of these fields, but along with that, what sets you apart is the clinical research and the trials that go underway there.
– The division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine is a nationally recognized department of pulmonary medicine, and we have many national and internationally recognized experts in many of the aspects of lung disease.
– And it’s really a team that works together. Because you have physicians in all of these different areas, you come together and really individualize treatment for patients.
– Yes, that’s true, and there is frequent co-management of patients. Many times, patients will have not one, but several pulmonary diseases, and we have experts that can facilitate the management of each aspect of pulmonary health.
– Right, and so the work there is so important, and in the middle of COVID-19 can you talk a little bit about adjustments that you made at the Comprehensive Lung Center to ensure patient safety?
– We’re a busy clinic. We see nearly 2,000 patients a month, well over 100 patients a day. And so in order to ensure safety of patients while in our area, we have transitioned to about 50% of our visits now are performed through telemedicine, either video or phone, and that allows us to de-intensify the waiting area so that there aren’t that many patients waiting in the waiting rooms. We clean about three times a day. We have staff going through and cleaning the doorknobs and the elevator buttons, as well as our medical assistants who clean the exam rooms after each visit. So we have done quite a bit, actually, to maintain and promote safety in the clinic area.
– And so, as you mentioned, you took part in lots of video visits, but there are some patients that do need to come back into the clinic and into the hospital, and let’s talk about some of those cases.
– There are patients that need to be tested. For instance, we have many patients that require radiology tests, chest X-rays, and CT scans, patients that are being actively screened for lung cancer, for instance, that require their yearly screening test. And so those patients should certainly come back into the hospital to get that test, or those tests, done. For instance, our transplant population as well, these patients need to be monitored with pulmonary function testing. And so it’s very important that they come back in to have their surveillance pulmonary function testing done. I feel very safe coming to work every day. I think that we have done quite a bit to assure safety within the clinic area.
– And so it’s a good reminder for folks that they should return and see their physicians. When is it time for someone to call a doctor? What are the underlying symptoms or signs where you would say to someone, “You should get checked out”?
– Any cough that lasts more than two weeks probably needs to be investigated. Shortness of breath that’s nuanced, that should be investigated and evaluated fairly quickly.
– And so let’s talk about just COVID in general as a respiratory illness. What are we learning about the disease, and how might that impact how we treat other diseases in the future?
– I think COVID presented a number of unique challenges in that it’s highly contagious, believed to have a mortality that’s going to be in excess of that of our common respiratory viruses: for instance, influenza. So many of the precautions that we’re now taking as a society to limit the spread of COVID, for instance, wearing a mask, social distancing, frequent handwashing, will, hopefully, have some positive benefits in the impact of the respiratory viruses and influenza in the fall. We don’t know that to be the case, but I’m certainly hopeful that that will be the case. I have had many patients that, typically,
would have a tenuous winter period with a respiratory illness. Since they have been isolating at home, washing their hands, wearing a mask, they have had far fewer respiratory problems.
– Well, doctor, that is some good information. Before we leave, let’s give patients one more reminder why you do think they should get their care back on track and not be afraid to seek treatment.
– My greatest concern is we had the health risk of the COVID virus, but we now have a potential health risk of deferred care. We’ve taken many precautions to make the clinic area safe, up to and including providing televideo visits. So there’s no reason, really, to delay the visit to the doctor again.
– Dr. Christopher Faber, thank you so much for coming in and spending time with us today. We certainly do appreciate it.
– My pleasure. Thank you.
– And thank you for joining us. I’m Tonia Caruso; this is UPMC HealthBeat.
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Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.