COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – With an influx of COVID-19 cases, Piedmont is urging patients to utilize virtual visits and telemedicine in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease.

Officials say Piedmont has offered telemedicine with many of it practices for several years. That includes many primary care physicians. Most visits are conducted over video, and all you need to get started is a video-enabled computer, tablet or smartphone.

For more information on telemedicine and virtual visits, click here.

Read the full release below:

Columbus, Ga. (Jan. 4, 2021) – This year every cough, sniffle, sneeze or body ache could be more than just the common cold and the desire is to get it diagnosed quickly so you can begin your recovery. Unfortunately, colds, influenza, and COVID-19 share some symptoms, so Mark Sexton, M.D. of Piedmont Physicians at Green Island, urges everyone to stay safe, and keep others safe, while your physician tries to determine your diagnosis.

“Germs are germs, and while the flu and COVID-19 are obviously more dangerous than the common cold, it’s important for everyone to follow the procedures put in place to keep everyone safe. This includes wearing masks inside the doctor’s office and may involve waiting in your car instead of the waiting room at your doctor’s office.”

Dr. Sexton added that telemedicine and virtual visits are another option for patients. Piedmont has been offering telemedicine in many of its physician practices for several years, but they have been used more frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Virtual visits can provide additional safety for all patients, including high-risk individuals from potentially being exposed to the novel coronavirus. Now that cold and flu season has begun, virtual visits can keep sick patients safe at home unless a screening for flu or COVID-19 is deemed necessary.

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses that have very similar symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms seen with both flu and COVID-19 are fever, sore throat and cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, a runny nose, headache and body aches or muscle soreness. Some people can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms.

“Another difference is COVID-19 can cause a change in or loss of taste or smell. That’s not a flu symptom, but it’s a very common symptom for COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Sexton said. “The important thing to remember if you feel sick is to start quarantining at home and call your doctor to find out the next step. They can help you arrange for testing and prescribe the medications to help with symptoms.”

Piedmont offers virtual visits with primary care physicians, urgent care locations, and specialty practices. Most visits are conducted over video, and all you need to get started is a video-enabled computer, tablet or smartphone. Piedmont’s virtual visits are also HIPAA-compliant, so you can be confident that your information is kept safely. In addition, Piedmont now offers On-Demand Virtual Visits that allow patients to be seen same-day through the Piedmont MyChart portal. If patients start experiencing symptoms, they can see a provider virtually with no appointment needed.

“If you are sick with a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, your best form of treatment includes staying home and taking care of yourself, as well as staying in touch with your doctor,” said Dr. Sexton “Meeting with a physician in a virtual visit will keep you safe and comfortable, while also protecting others.”

For more on telemedicine at Piedmont, visit