Our mission at Santa Barbara Pulmonary Associates is to provide comprehensive state of the art pulmonary care to the Central Coast communities and beyond. We are committed to improving the health of our patients with acute and chronic lung disease through exceptional and compassionate care. Our physicians are board certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine and have special expertise in the care of patients with cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, COPD, asthma, interstitial lung disease, asbestos related lung disease and lung cancer. We strive to build strong partnerships built on trust and respect with our patients while collaborating with their other health care providers so that care is personalized and treatments are as effective as possible.
Outpatient Services and Advanced Pulmonary Diagnostics
Comprehensive pulmonary consultation
Complete pulmonary function testing
Arterial blood gases
Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
Exercise induced bronchoconstriction testing
Six-minute walk tests
Oxygen titration studies
High altitude simulation tests
Airway Clearance teaching and review
State-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopies including use of ultrasound technology and robotic navigational bronchoscopy
Placement of endobronchial valves for the treatment of emphysema and bronchopleural fistula
Santa Barbara Pulmonary Associates provides inpatient pulmonary and critical care consultation at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital
Virtual Visit/Telemedicine Program
Santa Barbara Pulmonary Associates, in the setting of COVID-19, has started a robust virtual visit program and have recently transitioned from Spruce Health to a new more robust platform Zoom through Elation, our Electronic Health Record. This is an excellent HIPAA compliant platform that enables private video and audio communication between patients and their physicians.
Virtual visits allow convenient appointments as well as ease of scheduling and safety in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic to our patients. Most importantly, they allow us to stay connected with our patients and their loved ones, especially during this period when patients are feeling isolated as a result of the pandemic.
Please contact our office if you are interested in learning more about virtual visits. If accessing appropriate virtual visit technology is difficult, please discuss any issues you are encountering with our office staff, who are available to assist you. Telephone visits are also now possible. Virtual visits and telephone visits are now being reimbursed by most government and commercial insurance plans.
ROBERT S. WRIGHT, MD, FACP, FCCP, FRCP (C)
Dr. Wright graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Chemistry and he received his medical degree from the University of Southern California. He completed his training as a Medical Intern, Resident and Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences and subsequently as a Fellow in Nephrology at UCLA. He practiced nephrology for four years in Santa Barbara and completed further training as a Fellow in Pulmonary Medicine at the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences. He returned to Santa Barbara in 1990. He is board certified in Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care Medicine, Nephrology and Internal Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the American College of Physicians. Read More>
RICHARD A. BELKIN, MD, MSCE, FCCP
Dr. Belkin has practiced Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in Santa Barbara since 2004. Dr. Belkin thoroughly enjoys the practice of both outpatient and inpatient pulmonary and critical care medicine, with a special interest and expertise in the care of cystic fibrosis (CF) and bronchiectasis patients. He strives to provide comprehensive personalized care with a holistic approach with excellence, integrity and compassion in the care of his patients. He grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia). He completed his undergraduate work in biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, graduating cum laude in 1993. He obtained his medical degree (M.D.) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1997 where he was awarded the Gates Pharmaceutical Outstanding Student Award. Read More>
Conveniently located across the street from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room. The office is on the second floor of the Cottage Outpatient Surgery building.
Parking available on the ground floor and the underground garage. Wheelchair accessible. Elevator access to our second floor office.
Outpatient Treatment Options for COVID 19
Updated January 1st 2023
Outpatient management strategies continue to evolve – Data informing outpatient coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) management strategies continue to evolve, particularly in the setting of emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variants; the approach described here is based upon a rapidly developing evidence base. Clinicians should take into account the individual patient's clinical and social circumstances as well as the available resources when considering treatment options.
Outpatient management appropriate for majority of patients – Outpatient management is appropriate for most patients with COVID-19. When possible, we favor a coordinated care management program that includes initial risk stratification, clinician telehealth visits, a dedicated outpatient respiratory clinic, and a close relationship with a local emergency department (ED).
Initial evaluation; evaluation of acuity and risk stratification – On initial evaluation, we assess risk factors for severe disease dyspnea severity and duration (and oxygenation status of those with dyspnea, if that information is available), overall level of acuity, and the patient’s home setting to determine who warrants an in-person evaluation at an outpatient clinic or in the ED. The additional criteria we use to make this determination are not fixed and will vary by institution, region, and over time as resource availability and treatment options evolve.
We typically refer patients with one or more of the following features to the ED for further management and likely hospital admission:
•Severe dyspnea (dyspnea at rest, and interfering with the ability to speak in complete sentences)
•Oxygen saturation on room air of ≤90 percent, regardless of severity of dyspnea
•Concerning alterations in mentation (eg, confusion, change in behavior, difficulty in rousing) or other signs and symptoms of hypoperfusion or hypoxia (eg, falls, hypotension, cyanosis, anuria, chest pain suggestive of acute coronary syndrome)
We refer patients for evaluation in an outpatient clinic if they have one or more of the following features without any of the preceding features:
•Mild dyspnea in a patient with an oxygen saturation on room air between 91 to 94 percent
•Mild dyspnea in a patient with any risk factors for severe disease
•Moderate dyspnea in any patient
•Symptoms concerning enough to warrant in-person evaluation (eg, mild orthostasis) but not severe enough to require ED referral
The decision to refer patients for hospital admission or manage at home depends upon several factors, including their requirement for supplemental oxygen, an assessment of their overall acuity level, and hospital resources and capacity.
Other patients can generally remain at home for management without in-person evaluation if they can reliably report worsened symptoms and can self-isolate for the anticipated duration of illness. Some outpatients may be candidates for COVID-19-specific therapy, if available. We generally do not schedule routine telehealth follow-up visits for patients managed at home, although we reach out to those patients about whom we have concerns (eg, older adults who live alone, individuals who may not be able to reliably self-report worsening of symptoms) by telephone as our resources permit.
Outpatient COVID-19-specific therapy
•Adults who are at increased risk for severe disease due to comorbidities and/or vaccination status – For individuals who have symptomatic mild to moderate COVID-19 (ie, no hypoxia) and are at increased risk for progression to severe disease due to advanced age, comorbidities, and/or vaccination status, we recommend early treatment with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir rather than no therapy. Such individuals include:
-Adults ≥65 years, regardless of vaccination history
-Adults of any age with an immunocompromising condition, regardless of vaccination history or prior receipt of pre-exposure prophylaxis
-Immunocompetent adults of any age who have multiple risk factors for progression to severe disease, regardless of vaccination history
-Immunocompetent adults >50 years who have not been vaccinated, regardless of risk factors
Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir can reduce the risk of COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death, and the expected benefit of treatment in these patients is likely substantial.
When supplies of and resources for COVID-19-specific therapy are limited, we prioritize treatment for immunocompromised individuals who are likely to have a suboptimal response to vaccination and unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals who have the highest risk for progression to severe disease.
•Other adults – We do not routinely use COVID-19-specific therapy for immunocompetent adults aged ≤64 years who are up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations and who have no other risk factors for progression to severe disease. In such patients, the overall risk of progression to severe disease is low enough that the absolute benefit of treatment may not outweigh any potential risk of harm (eg, medication adverse effects, drug-drug interactions, risk of "rebound COVID-19" requiring extension of the isolation period).
We also do not use COVID-19-specific therapy for individuals without any risk factors for severe disease, or for individuals who have asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
●Administration of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir – Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir should be administered as soon as possible and within five days after symptom onset.
•Dose – For patients with normal renal function (estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR] ≥60 mL/min), the dose is nirmatrelvir 300 mg-ritonavir 100 mg orally twice daily for five days. For patients with moderate kidney impairment (eGFR 30 to 59 mL/min), the dose is nirmatrelvir 150 mg-ritonavir 100 mg orally twice daily for five days. It is not authorized for patients with severe kidney impairment.
•Interactions – Prior to prescribing nirmatrelvir-ritonavir, clinicians should review all medications and assess potential drug interactions using an online tool. Although many medications have interactions with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir, some interactions may be mitigated by holding or dose-reducing the co-medication, and some interactions only warrant monitoring. Specific drug interactions can be checked through the Lexicomp Drug Interaction tool or the drug interaction checker from the University of Liverpool.
•Rebound – Viral rebound with or without mild recurrent symptoms occurs in a minority of patients following initial improvement with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir and warrants extension of the isolation period. We advise patients of this possibility, but for patients at risk for progression to severe disease, the potential benefits of treatment greatly outweigh any potential inconvenience from rebound.
Anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies used to be alternative options for COVID-19-specific therapy [52-54]. However, monoclonal antibodies have variable activity against the different SARS-CoV-2 variants, and there are no monoclonal antibodies with activity against the increasingly prevalent Omicron sublineages BQ.1 and BQ1.1 in the United States. Thus, bebtelovimab is no longer authorized for use to treat COVID-19 in the United States
Please note the treatments for COVID 19 are evolving day to day, so please call our office for any updates or questions.
References: UpToDate accessed December 31st 2022
COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE FOR SBPA PATIENTS
COVID-19 BOOSTER VACCINATION
Updated January 1st 2023
Booster doses with the bivalent COVID-19 mRNA vaccines
● For individuals ≥12 years old, a bivalent mRNA vaccine is used for the booster dose.
● Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines are a strategy to improve effectiveness in the setting of waning immunity and immune evasion from circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized two bivalent mRNA booster vaccines that target the spike proteins of both the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the Omicron B.4/B.5 variants (Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, bivalent for individuals ≥12 years old and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, bivalent for individuals ≥18 years old). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all individuals ≥12 years old who have completed a primary COVID-19 vaccine series (including those who already received booster doses with monovalent vaccines) receive a single booster dose with one of the bivalent vaccines at least two months after the last vaccine dose. Our approach is consistent with CDC recommendations. Although clinical data evaluating bivalent vaccines are limited, their use is supported by indirect evidence from trials and observational studies in which monovalent booster doses improved vaccine efficacy against infection and severe disease and by studies that indicate at least comparable immunogenicity with bivalent versus monovalent formulations.
References: UpToDate accessed January 1st 2023
Please refer to the CDC website for more information about the COVID-19 booster vaccine
As the guidelines for COVID-19 booster vaccination continue to evolve, if you have questions about if the booster vaccine is right for you, please contact us at SBPA to discuss further.
SBPA COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
January 1st 2023
We take every measure recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and other local public health experts to provide a safe health care environment for you when you come into our office. You will be screened for symptoms of COVID 19 both at the time of appointment confirmation as well as on arrival to the office. YOU ARE STILL REQUIRED TO WEAR A FACE MASK AT ALL TIMES IN OUR OFFICE regardless of vaccination status consistent with CDC guidelines for healthcare facilities.
Please inform us if you are experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 including fever, new cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or other concerning symptoms as your appointment may need to be rescheduled or changed to a virtual visit.
We continue to require you to wear a mask when entering our office and throughout your visit and maintain social distancing with others of at least 6 feet. Our waiting room has been arranged to facilitate adequate distancing. To maximize patient safety, we have placed Molekule air purifiers in our waiting room and throughout our office to significantly decrease risk of spread of COVID-19. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the office for your use. Our staff will take every safety measure for our mutual protection, including strict use of appropriate personal protective equipment.