Telehealth troubles at EVMS delay medication for Chesapeake woman in chronic pain


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Janice Charity, a senior living in Chesapeake, scheduled a telehealth visit with Eastern Virginia Medical School in mid-August.

It was a vital appointment because she’s on pain management and needed to have her medicine refilled. The appointment never happened.

Charity would glance at her phone periodically during the scheduled appointment Aug. 14.

“(The screen read) ‘Visit in progress’ for more than 24 hours, the entire night. And I said it can’t be in progress. I’m looking at it and nobody’s here. What’s going on?” Charity said.

She got a rescheduled appointment for Sept. 1, and checked ahead of time with the office manager and even called support for the Follow My Health App. Both verified her phone was okay.

Then on Sept. 1, she got a last-minute message “telling me that I had a $50 dollar charge on my account. I said well where did that come from? It’s the doctor that’s not coming in. Why are you charging me?”

She says her appointment was canceled because of the balance due.

Charity has a prescription for Hydrocodone after neck and back surgery.

“We’re suffering. We can’t get our medicine because we can’t get through to a visit.”

10 On Your Side contacted EVMS before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. By 1:45 p.m., Charity got a call from the hospital saying the $50 fee was dropped.

An EVMS spokesman acknowledged in an email there are “plenty of challenges for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (where Charity is a patient) practices with the pandemic, changes in federal requirements around prescribing of pain meds, and closures of virtually all pain clinics in our region,” and would seek further information about virtual visits at EVMS.

Charity was finally able to do a telehealth visit Sept. 9, more than three weeks after her refill date of Aug. 17. She says she simply had to do without it until then.

“It’s about my quality of life. I’m trying to manage my care.”

She showed us the notes she took from phone conversations and the multiple messages that went back and forth by email and on the Follow My Health app.

“What about the patient? What about us?”

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