Keeping up with cardiology appointments


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Going into the doctor for an in-person visit has been happening less during the pandemic, as many turn to Telehealth to slow the spread of COVID-19. But a local cardiologist says there are some appointments that an in-person visit is necessary.

Paul and Darlene Muehler are both cardiology patients with Sanford Health. Darlene found out she had A-FIB during an appointment for Paul, who has congestive heart failure.

“They told me, two years after I had that heart failure that I probably only had a year and a half to live. Well, I’m still here by the grace of God and the help of the doctors and nurses,” Paul said.

After experiencing various heart issues, Paul had an LVAD put in last year. One of the couple’s cardiologists, Dr. Kelly Steffen, says an LVAD requires regular in-person visits.

“The device kind of bypasses the heart and works as its own external pump so that his heart doesn’t have to do the job,” Steffen said.

But with COVID-19 restrictions on visitors at Sanford Health, Darlene wasn’t able to come with Paul to his appointment like she regularly would.

“I’m his caregiver. So I do all of his bandage changes once a week. And so I have to know kind of what’s going on. I don’t know everything that he knows about it, but… so that’s why we’re a team,” Darlene said.

“I’ve never seen them not together in all our years following them. And so when we had to put restrictions on visitors, especially during office appointments, it made it difficult for them to come in,” Steffen said.

While tough, Paul still attended his appointment– and says he hopes others won’t postpone important care due to fear of the pandemic.

“I’m not concerned about it because I think they keep the place very clean and, and do what they’re supposed to do,” Paul said.

“We have a lot of safeguards in place to try and protect people during their short visits in our office. And so I would still encourage people to come into their appointments,” Steffen said.

Steffen says if a patient is concerned about being seen in-person, telehealth is still an option. If you have questions about an upcoming appointment, call your doctor.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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